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From the Desk of Avery Supt. David Burleson: New Anonymous Tip Hotline Available

Dear Editor,

January is School Board Appreciation Month, and the Avery County Schools want to say “thank you” to all our board members who do so much for our school system. Avery County is represented by five dedicated board members who devote countless hours to make sure our students are served in the best way possible.

Supt. Burleson
Supt. Burleson

Chair John Greene, Vice-Chair Kathey Aldridge, Dr. Bob Clark, Steve Smith and Keith Tutterow are true advocates for the children of Avery County, developing policies and make decisions that help shape the future of our educational system. Our school board oversees more than 2,000 students, 460 employees, and an annual budget of $25,000,000. I am proud to work with our board, and I congratulate them on their excellent leadership and vision for the students of Avery County.

I also wanted to make our community aware of the new anonymous tip line, SPK UP NC, that our middle and high school students and staff currently have available to them. The Avery County Schools joins five other districts across North Carolina by becoming a test site for “SPK UP NC,” a school safety program for students – developed by the N.C. Center for Safer Schools – that enables them to anonymously report tips about school safety concerns via a mobile app. The tips will be received by school administrators who will respond appropriately based on the type of tip.

We want to be sure our students have a voice when it comes to feeling safe at school, and that’s why we agreed to be among the first districts in North Carolina to make this mobile application available to our students. This app gives students the ability to remain anonymous while reporting instances of bullying or fighting involving themselves or others, or if they’ve seen a weapon at school, with assurances that their tip will be seen and investigated. The SPK UP NC mobile app allows users (who can include students, teachers and parents) to provide tips in categories that include bullying, illegal drug and alcohol use, fighting, weapons and a Report It category for all other types of tips.   Additionally, if a student has a suicide or mental health concern, they can engage the bar that reads Suicide Lifeline and then hit the call button. Those calls will go outside the phone app, and be answered by a trained mental health professional who will talk with the student and determine what further action needs to be taken.

The SPK UP NC app is available for download from the Android Marketplace and the Apple App Store. From your Android mobile device, follow this link to download:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ithinqware.speakup&hl=en. From your Apple mobile device (the SPK UP NC app is compatible with iPhone 3 and up) follow this link to download:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speakupapp/id1031639757?mt=8. Tips can also be sent anonymously from the following website: http://speakupapp.tips/home.php, using computers in the school, home or library.

The Center for Safer Schools, created in March 2013 as part of the N.C. Department of Public Safety, developed the SPK UP NC app in response to a concern noted by students, teachers, administrators and law enforcement during community forums, of a need for a standardized method for students to report safety issues to school administrators, teachers and school resource officers. The Center for Safer Schools is piloting the application in six school districts to work out any issues in the application, and then will begin to roll it out statewide later this year. Collaboration with the following pilot school districts has been ongoing to develop this product specifically for the students, parents and teachers of North Carolina: Avery County, Johnston County, Lenoir County, Macon County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth and Iredell County.  The Avery County schools was the first school system to roll out the application. Here is some additional information on SPK UP NC.

Why it exists

Over 160,000 school children miss school each day in the United States out of fear of being bullied. Being able to report their fears is paramount in reducing these absences. Over 90 percent of students say they would use an anonymous reporting tool if they had one available. This is also important because over 80 percent of school shooters tell someone before they act. An anonymous reporting tool could help prevent school shootings and other safety concerns on school campuses.

In 2013, one of the first activities of the North Carolina Center for Safer Schools (NCCFSS) was to tour the state and hold community forums at several schools. These forums included meeting with students, teachers, administrators and law enforcement in the afternoon followed by an open community forum in the evening. One of the concerns that arose from these meetings was that students needed a truly anonymous, standardized method to report their concerns to school administrators, school resource officers (SROs), and teachers. The NCCFSS heard this call for help and began developing a plan to find and implement an anonymous reporting application for students that could also be available for their parents and teachers. SPK UP NC is a tangible anonymous application for smart phones that has been developed with the needs of North Carolina’s school children in mind.

Link to SPK UP NC Tip page

See It. Tip It. Stop It. Use this link to send an anonymous tip to school administrators and school resource officers. http://speakupapp.tips/home.php?id=116

Link to Apple and Android stores

For Android

The SPK UP NC app is available for download from the Android Marketplace, making it easier than ever to install to your phone. Follow this link to download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ithinqware.speakup&hl=en

For iPhone

For iPhone, the SPK UP NC app is compatible with iPhone 3 and up. Follow this link to get the most recent update: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speakupapp/id1031639757?mt=8

Link to SPK UP NC Web Page



SPK UP NC Application Overview
Feature SPK UP NC App
Is it anonymous? Yes! The tip is processed through an out-of-state server that removes device information prior to passing the tip on to the designated school team.
Can tips be submitted on mobile devices? Yes! You may use either iPhone or Android by downloading the free application to your device.
Is there a quick link to download the App? Yes! For the Android version go to https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ithinqware.speakup&hl=en

And for the iPhone version go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speakupapp/id1031639757?mt=8

Does SPK UP NC work across mobile phone carriers? YES!
Does it cost anything to send a tip? No!
Is it easy to use? Yes! After you have downloaded the App to your phone, simply pick your school and the app will always be set-up to report to your school’s SPK UP NC team members. Then you simply select the type of activity and write a short description of who, what, when and where this activity is occurring.
Is it reliable? Yes! Each school has identified who should be contacted for each of the reporting groups and your report instantly goes to the proper people.
Can images be submitted with the tip? Yes! Photo images and videos can be submitted with any tip.
Is there a capability for two-way dialog? Yes! You must select this option as the default is for a one-way push of information.
Can I tip using a tablet or computer? Yes! Simply go to http://speakupapp.tips/home.php?id=116 and fill out a tip form.

We appreciate the support of our community and the shared desire to keep our students safe.

Sincerely yours,

David Burleson