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Shoreham-Wading River schools introduce anonymous reporting app

05/01/2018 6:00 AM |

The Shoreham Wading River School District introduced a motto last week — “See it, say it, report it” — to accompany the adoption of a new safety strategy designed to help encourage students to speak up when they see or hear things that trouble them or make them uncomfortable.

In addition, the district has introduced a web-based app called Report It that enables students to anonymously report anything they deem alarming or concerning. The app will function in all four district school buildings.

“This seemed to be a nice, user-friendly feature that would give us as much advance notice as possible of anything that’s emerging,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said.

Posted alerts are sent to school administrators, mainly school principals, who review the concern and proceed investigating accordingly.

“It is designed to give a student, parent or somebody else a platform to give that information to the school district so we can investigate and take as many steps as necessary,” Mr. Poole said. “There are students who, for whatever reason, aren’t comfortable leaving their name or coming directly, so we’re hoping we’re able to help more students if there is this opportunity to report it anonymously.”

During a presentation to the Board of Education last Wednesday night, Alan Meinster, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the Report It system was introduced to students at a regular safety assembly early last week. 

“The understanding is that we will get the information, but there will be no follow up because it’s anonymous,” Mr. Meinster said. “But please be assured that we will take that information and it will be reviewed.”

Links with the app’s access code appear on all school homepages. The district entered into a 12-month contract with the Report It company, at a cost of $2,975 for the year.

Students, faculty, staff and parents are all welcome to use the Report It service. To ensure postings are sent to the proper channels, each school has an individual code or a QR code they can scan. The service also uses geofencing and location services to identify where each report is coming from. 

When the app is first opened, there is a message stating that this is not an emergency reporting line, that emergency services will not be contacted and that people should call 911 for time-sensitive or potentially dangerous issue. The reporter can then select a reporting category from options including threat or safety concerns, drugs or alcohol, social media observation and even “other.” The reporter is then prompted to enter the date and time of the incident and write a short blurb about what happened. Another option allows reporters to add a photo or video.

The Report It service is already in use in other Long Island districts, including Port Washington, Lynbrook and Half Hollow Hills, according to company director Anthony Lavalle.

Mr. Poole said incoming reports will be monitored during school hours and that administrators will follow the same steps to investigate issues reported via the app as they would if someone came to them in person.

“We are really on a continued mission to enhance our security whenever and wherever we can,” Mr. Poole said. 

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Photo caption: The Report It app allows students to report concerns without revealing their identity. (Rachel Siford photo)

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