School reporting bill clears state house committee

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Manweller

MOSES LAKE — A bill that would allow school districts across the state to use a mobile app to allow students to report violence or dangerous situations anonymously at school has cleared a key state legislative committee.

According to Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, House Bill 2442, which cleared the House Education Committee on Wednesday, would give students in Washington state “a fast, secure and anonymous way method to report threatening activities.”

“The logic behind the bill is that the investigations (of major school shootings) discovered that kids knew about it, but didn’t know who to tell or how,” Manweller told the Columbia Basin Herald.

Manweller, who has supported similar legislation since 2015, said he believes it will be easier for kids to report dangers if they have a customized app that will allow them to do it easily and anonymously.

The bill would require school districts to “contract with a vendor” to create an anonymous, app-based reporting system. Manweller pointed specifically to the app system created by New Jersey-based STOPit Solutions, which is used in a number of schools across the country.

After logging on with a school-specific code, the app allows students to report an incident anonymously — and add photos and videos to their report — which then goes directly to school officials, allowing them to take preventive action.

On its website, STOPit Solutions says its software allows students to report bullying, inappropriate relationships, violence and threats, hazing, weapons on campus, and even allows students who are troubled to seek help for themselves.

“I think it’s better to prevent the violence than prosecute it afterward,” Manweller said.

Manweller is optimistic that with fixes to concerns about school district liability, the measure should finally pass the state legislature this year.

“We’ve got momentum this year,” he said. “I think it will go this year, I’m really optimistic.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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