DATE: May 3, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Western Albemarle Is Piloting New Anonymous Reporting System Beginning This Monday, May 6; System Will Be Expanded to All Schools in the Fall
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Beginning this Monday, May 6, members of the school community at Western Albemarle High School will be able to use a web application to anonymously report threatening, abusive or unsafe behavior at school. Western is piloting the new system, Anonymous Alerts, through the end of the current school year prior to the division making the app operational for all schools in the fall.
Anonymous Alerts currently is in operation in more than 5,000 schools across the country. It allows any member of a school community, including students, parents or staff, to file an online report of an incident or concern in one of nine subject categories. Categories include bullying, drug possession, alcohol or weapons on campus, sexual harassment or assault, vandalism, theft, violent behavior, suicidal expressions, and threats made against people or a building.
“This is another major step forward in our continuous improvement actions to safeguard the safety and well-being of students, staff and families,” said Dr. Nicholas King, the school division’s Student Services Officer and coordinator of its community-based School Safety Advisory Committee.
Dr. King was on the bid selection team for the new app and headed up the research on its impact in other school divisions. “Among the most important words in the safety realm are, ‘When you see something, say something.’ That’s not always easy for a child or teenager,” said Dr. King. “An anonymous reporting capability gets at that reluctance and also is an efficient way to react in real time to prevent a tragedy,” he said.
As an example, the school division said that some students knew of recent social media threats made against Charlottesville and Albemarle high schools, but did report what they knew.
“We recognize that there are times when a student would prefer to express serious concerns about safety in a private message. Hopefully students will feel more comfortable in the future, now having the option of an anonymous system,” Dr. King added.
Beginning this Monday, members of the Western Albemarle High School community will be able to click on a link on the school’s homepage to open the computer reporting app. The app will guide them through a series of simple steps to file their report. The Anonymous Alerts app also will be available to download.
All reports are sent electronically to the school principal for investigation and follow-up. In some instances, such as social-emotional concerns, the report also will be sent to a school counselor. All reports of dangerous substances or items on campus also will be sent to the school division’s central office.
Among the special features of the system is an option that enables a person who is making a report to engage in an online conversation with the principal while still remaining anonymous. The person also will be able to request a face-to-face meeting.
Darah Bonham, Western’s principal, said that when he heard the division was interested in piloting the reporting system at a school, he volunteered Western. “This is a great example of how we can benefit from encouraging greater student voice in our school,” Bonham said.
“There is no higher priority at Western than the safety and well-being of every member of our community. This new app furthers our ability to do that even more effectively and to model how this system will work best when it is made available to all schools,” he said.