Got bullies? Two ways to get help

For non-immediate concerns about bullying and harassment, parents, teachers, students and the community can report information — even anonymously — through two different systems in the Frenship Independent School District.

The first system is called Stay ALERT, and has been available for two years.

Danny Miller, Frenship Independent School District’s director of student services, said Stay ALERT is provided by FISD’s risk management company, Edwards Risk Management.

Parents, students, teachers and community members can phone, text or use a website form to report unsafe behaviors, suspicious activities, bullying, acts of violence, harassment and other activities that could disrupt school safety.

Stay ALERT is available by calling or texting 1-206-406-6485. It is also available online at http://www.stayalert.info/ or by sending an email to report@stayalert.info.

“Most kids text everything,” FISD Police Chief Gerry Arranaga said.

It is a bilingual system. It is also possible for it to be anonymous, Miller said, although he said there are also ways for people to leave a name and contact information if they wish.

Miller said the alerts from this system go to Arranaga, who decides whether to send the information directly to a campus for school officials to check out, or to initiate a police investigation himself.

“The Stay ALERT (system) was designed to be broader in scope,” Miller said. It can be used to report bullying, vandalism, theft, drug use or possession, alcohol use or possession, weapons, teacher or student conflicts or other safety concerns.

Frenship ISD also began a second reporting system this year, Miller said. This system, created through Eduphoria, sends complaints or reports online directly to Miller.

The Eduphoria form is located on the FISD Administrative and Student Resources website on this page: http://frenship.us/Page/3207.

The link is located toward the bottom of the page under “Bullying Intimidation and Harassment Form.”

The Eduphoria system was created because of bullying legislation passed in the 2011 session, Miller said. “We just wanted to give people a second avenue to report” problems from bullying or harassment, he said.

Miller said the district will get a report from Edwards Risk Management at the end of the school year about how many reports were made through the Stay ALERT system. Through the district’s Eduphoria reporting system, he said there were four reports filed during the fall semester this school year. The district is required to investigate and take any necessary actions on those reports, Miller said.

“All four of them were investigated,” Miller said of the complaints reported in the fall semester. The district first determined whether the problem was bullying, and Miller said two of the cases were determined not to be bullying.

“On two of them, action was taken on students that were reported for bullying,” Miller said, adding that both the bullies and their victims were referred for counseling. He said the district is trying to make more use of the counseling staff in these instances.

In addition, parents of both the bullies and victims were contacted, Miller said.

The district needs to do more to make sure people know about the reporting systems, Miller said, adding that there is more bullying awareness at the middle school and high school levels than at the elementary school levels.

Arranaga said he is glad that elementary schools are starting to get the word out. He said he wants to see more people come forward when they see a problem.

“Unfortunately, it’s more common to hear from the victim than from the other people aware of the problem,” Arranaga said. He said he doesn’t know if schools stress enough that witnesses should come forward even if they are not victims.

The police chief hesitated when asked if bullying is a bigger problem now than when he was in school, saying, “It’s hard to tell. I know that students have become more aware of it than ever before.”

Both school officials stressed that the two reporting systems are not for emergency situations.

“If there’s an immediate danger, they need to call 911 immediately,” Miller said, noting that he might not see a submission through the Eduphoria system for a few hours if he is in a meeting.

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