School app bill worth another look

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Defunct House Bill 2442 may be worth another look in the wake of last week’s Florida school shooting that left 17 dead.

The school safety reporting bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, would have created a “students protecting students” program by using a mobile app device in which students could anonymously report school safety threats. The bill did not make it out of the House of Representatives before the bill cutoff date.

Manweller said in his email update this week he and other lawmakers are working to include the app portion as an amendment to another school safety measure that is still moving through the process. Representatives from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Association of Washington School Principals recently testified in favor of the bill.

“Research shows that similar incident and reporting mobile application programs have reduced school shootings, reduced cyberbullying and in-person bullying, and have saved school districts money. The state and schools can save money to save lives,” according to a summary of public testimony.

Moses Lake was tragically affected in 1996 by one of the earliest school shootings in the nation that left one teacher and two students dead at Frontier Middle School. Twenty-two years later, a memorial stands at Frontier honoring the dead and as a reminder to future generations. Moses Lake, other communities affected by their own school shootings, and the entire nation are still grappling with a societal problem that seems to be spiraling out of control. What or who is to blame? Is it the parents, the schools, mental health service gaps, gun laws, social media or video game violence? We don’t profess to know the answers. We’re as heartbroken as the next person when another school shooting is reported. But we’re committed to finding solutions.

The Moses Lake School District has an incident reporting line on its website and an option to report anonymously. People can report an incident via text, email, web or phone. School safety procedures are posted in schools as well. We are so glad these measures are in place.

As the district continues to grapple with overcrowding issues at the high school, student safety has been and will continue to be a discussion topic. Let’s be creative and study as many safety options as possible, including another look at offering a mobile app reporting tool for students.

— Editorial Board

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