It’s now easier for anyone to notify the Muscogee County School District (GA) about safety concerns involving Columbus public schools.
Through a national service called SafeSchools Alert, MCSD launched the new system that allows reports to be submitted multiple ways anywhere and anytime. The reports are submitted anonymously.
SafeSchools Alert is designed for users to notify school district officials about concerns such as threats of violence, bullying, harassment, mental health, weapons, illegal substances and gangs. For emergencies, however, residents should still call 911.
Along with the tips, users can attach image and text files as supporting documentation. SafeSchools Alert automatically routes each tip to the appropriate administrators, who can electronically track the status of the tips through the system.
Cobb and Cherokee county school districts in Georgia have been using the system successfully, MCSD communications director Mercedes Parham told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email. “Each of those districts mentioned positive results in decreasing illegal substances, bullying and weapons within the schools,” she said.
Officials already see evidence that the system will improve safety in Muscogee County schools. In the two weeks since SafeSchools Alert was activated here, MCSD received 11 tips, said Tracy Fox, the district’s risk management director.
For example, after an anonymous tip about drugs in a school, MCSD’s police department responded and “resolved the issue,” Fox told the L-E. The other tips were about bullying, gang activity and a concern about a student, she said.
A phone message left on a hotline was the only centralized way MCSD previously had for people to anonymously report safety concerns, Fox said. So the new system “allows us more access to be able to respond a lot quicker,” she said.
It also helps MCSD officials contact the tipsters for more information if needed. “This allows us to respond and say, ‘Hey, we’re looking into it,’” Fox said.
Administrators see the tips on an electronic dashboard that records how the district handles them.
“It’s just another accountability piece that we didn’t necessarily have in the past,” Fox said.