Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2007

High school introduces tips hotline

October 11, 2007

Relaying information about possible wrong doing at De Soto High School just got a little easier.

Students and parents now are able to offer anonymous tips on the De Soto High School tips hotline on the Internet or through the comments box in the library. A hotline for Lexington Trails Middle School will be available within a month.

The tips hotline began last year when School Resource Officer Deputy Eddie Blake wanted another way to find out students who weren't following the school rules.

On the school's Web site, students can access a link that will bring up a box describing the hotline and its rules. After a student hits send, the message goes directly to Blake's e-mail inbox.

"The tech person here at our school has made it to where when I receive these e-mails; it just has a number from the bottom of the screen," Blake said. "I have no idea where it comes from."

Students also have the option of submitting their names along with tips in order to be eligible for a small reward if tips are verified.

Blake said the new system didn't cost the school anything extra and the reward money was from a student account that generally receives monies from things like the purchase of extra agendas.

Tip rewards vary based on the value of the tip, Blake said.

"If somebody knows about a fight or that they spray painted a sign, that won't be rewarded as much as if (a student reported that) somebody has drugs on them at school," he said.

Immediate action generally is not taken on anonymous tips until there is further verification that the tip is true, Blake said. However, tips with students' names signed to them can be investigated immediately, as Blake can contact the student who submitted it for further information.

Although a venue for anonymous tips could lead to erroneous tips, Blake said every tip he received so far has been helpful.

"It has helped with underage drinking, vandalism and drugs," he said.

Blake said tips can vary from day to day. Some days he might receive none and others he might receive five.

Blake said tipsters can also give information about illegal activities happening outside of the school because Blake can inform the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.

"If it involves my students and the well-being of them, that is absolutely information that I want to know about," he said.

Freshman Ashley Gorman said she liked that students had an ability to give a tip anonymously.

"You can express your feelings without being embarrassed," she said.

Sophomore Hannah Crump said she thought it was good for students who didn't know who to trust with their information.

"Some students think they can't open up to anyone they know," she said.

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