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Wisconsin launches tip line for school safety concerns

Posted at 4:50 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 18:51:49-04

The state launched a new program allowing students, teachers, and parents to submit confidential school safety concerns.

Wisconsin's Department of Justice announced the new Speak Up Speak Out School Safety Resource Center is available statewide, supplementing existing tools.

Students can submit confidential tips on a wide range of safety concerns from bullying to drugs to planned school attacks. It is funded with more than $2 million in federal grants.

"Our schools have been traditionally one of the safest places for our children and I want that to always be the case," said Carolyn Stratford Taylor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

"When somebody submits a tip a trained analyst at the Wisconsin Department of Justice will be on call. We'll have people on call 24/7 to respond and to deploy the appropriate resources in response to that tip that can include school administrators, law enforcement, or counselors," said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

A recent national survey by RTI International showed more than 50 percent of principals said school tip lines prevented violence, and 73 percent said tip lines prevented instances of self-harm or suicide.

The School District of Waukesha already receives tips about safety concerns, but not through a formal avenue.

"That is really the whole intent of this program is to make sure we’re getting information in a timely way and we can act on it immediately," said Luke Pinion, Director of Student Services at the School District of Waukesha.

Pinion added tips would also reach a contact at the related school, in their case, it would be the administrator.

"I think it makes a difference in the sense that they’ve trained us so our training in our process for assessing risk comes directly from them and so their guidance is really beneficial to us so having them hand in hand would be helpful for our school staff were doing the work," said Pinion.

Cyndi Lambert just moved to Shorewood with two kids. She thinks the resource has potential.

"My concern is just making sure that it would be used properly and successfully in regards to that it’s not abused," said Lambert.

Kaul said submitting a false tip the school resource line will be treated the same as submitting it to 9-1-1.

Stratford Taylor said with students learning in and out of the classroom Speak Up Speak Out is valuable because kids may not have the same access to report school concerns to trusted adults.

Speak Up Speak Out is available online, over the phone, and through a mobile app.

Reports can be made 24/7 through the website by clicking here. You can also call 1-800-MY-SUSO-1 (1-800-697-8776) or download the mobile app on iOS or Android.

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