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How anonymous is the Mount Si High School tip line?
Mount Si High School's year-old Tipline is intended to let students anonymously express their concerns about school violence, bullying, and other safety issues. They can visit the school's tip website, (https://mountsi.schooltipline.com) to report something, and have the option to include their contact information, or to remain anonymous, or they can send a text message containing "@mountsi" and information about their concerns to 847847.
According to Pam Hayes, sales director for School Tipline, Inc., some students are skeptical that the tool really is anonymous, and may not use it because of that.
"They're scared that it's not anonymous because the schools purchased it," she said. However, she assuredly stated that all of the identifying information with each tip is stored only on her company's data servers. Tips are forwarded on to the school administrative staff for review, stripped of all contact information, she said, and "They do not see the students information. That is completely confidential."
Tipline also has options for students to create accounts, and log in to see their tips and any responses to them, and a phone number option. However, Hayes said neither of these options are very popular with students, who don't want to be associated with their tips, or have their voices recorded. Students can still get responses to their reports, however, by leaving contact information, visible only to the company. If an administrator responds, the message is sent to the company, and then forwarded on to the student.
At Mount Si, tips are routed to the attendance office, where Attendance Secretary Bronwyn McDaniels and Principal Belcher review them and forward them to staff members best prepared to address the issues. Hayes said that staff can also request to have the tips forwarded to their mobile devices. All identifying information about the tip is stripped from the tips, and, if a student agrees to be contacted, from the staff's response, so no phone numbers are inadvertently shared.
Tipline has been implemented by more than 1,000 schools in the U.S. since it was launched in 2006. Hayes said the schools vary in size from some of the largest in the nation to some with only 300 students in the entire district. Cost of the program varies with each implementation, Hayes said, "but typically, it's a dollar per student."
That fee includes the software for reporting, and a variety of on-line and in-person staff training options.
Since its implementation in January, 2011, the Tipline has received 12 tips total, according to Principal John Belcher, who started at Mount Si in July. This year, there were four, including one from a middle school student.