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District Finding Success Implementing Anonymous Reporting Tool

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Yelm Community Schools is rolling out a new anonymous reporting tool students can use to address bullying, harassment and illegal activity.

STOPit, an incident and case management software-service, is frequently used by governments, school districts, law enforcement and businesses nationwide to anonymously report harassing or suspicious behavior to authorities, according to its website.

Jonathan Maynard, Information Technology director at Yelm Community Schools, said the program has been a success since its rollout in September. So far, 161 reports have been filed on the service, with 158 of those reports closed.

Although most of the reports haven’t been too dire, Maynard said the application has been successful in deterring unruly and harmful action.

“It only takes one time for it to work to prove its value… and we’ve had several of those,” Maynard said.

The school district pays about $1,500 a year for this service, which includes 24/7 remote services offered by the company.

STOPit can be accessed almost anywhere and anytime through a smartphone application. Students open the application, enter an access code, then are able to file a report anonymously shared with the district and service. Within the report, students are able to attach photos and video, provide details of the incident and provide follow-up information.

“I just wanted another avenue, another lane for students to report,” Maynard said.

It’s taken the school about a year to roll out with this program. After doing research and watching some live-demos of the service, Maynard said he brought his findings to the principals and district for review.

He said he initially fell on this particular service because of its accessibility, and because it benefits the systems the school district already has in place.

“Mainly because its ease of use and now you have everybody with smartphones,” Maynard said. “There’s so many different avenues to report something.”

So far, about half of the software’s reports have been listed as “Undefined,” which means they don’t necessarily fall into the parameters of bullying or harassment. “Unsubstantiated” was the second most generated report type, with about 11 percent of the total reports. Maynard said unsubstantiated reports mean they’ve looked at evidence regarding the report and have deemed the claim unsubstantiated.

When it comes to false reporting, Maynard said he’s not seeing that much of it. Only about 2 percent of all STOPit reports turnout to be false, he said. And that’s about the amount of reports he’s seen.

“It’s actually a two-way communication,” Maynard said of the application. “So if someone downloads the app and fills out a report, we could actually send out a message to that phone even if it’s anonymous.”

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