Another tool for student safety

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Polk County Schools rolls out new tip line service

COLUMBUS — Thanks to a new service recently rolled out by Polk County Schools, it is easier than ever for the community to warn administrators of potential threats to student safety.

Superintendent Aaron Greene announced during Monday’s meeting of the Polk County Schools Board of Education that the district had recently activated a new anonymous school safety tip line. The service — which can be reached by calling 828-894-7020 — will allow parents and others in the community to notify key education officials about possible dangers in and around each of the district’s schools.

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Users of the tip line are asked to leave a detailed message about the security concern they wish to share, including names, the school involved and type of event. Callers can leave their name and number if they wish, though it is not required.

All calls to the tip line are forwarded to Greene, Student Services Director Mike Melton and Technology Director Dave Scherping, who will evaluate and, if deemed necessary, pass on the message to the appropriate building principal, staff members and/or the police.

As demonstrated by Greene Monday evening, recordings left on the tip line are forwarded in a matter of seconds via email to the three administrators.

“If somebody needed to get a tip to us, we can get it turned around very quickly,” Greene said.

District officials decided to go live with the tip line nearly a year before such a system will be required by state law. North Carolina has mandated that all state high schools and middle schools have a tip line in place by July 1, 2019.

Not only is Polk County’s system already in place, but is available for all the district’s buildings.

“I think this is a step in the right direction in terms of school safety,” Greene said. “We knew it was coming, so we just wanted to get ahead of it.”

North Carolina officials are also developing a mobile application that students can use to anonymously report possible threats, which is currently being tested in several districts across the state. Greene said Polk County Schools will consider implementing the program when it becomes available to all districts.