Fox 7 reporter Marcel Clarke interviewed TSD Superintendent Claire Bugen and Anonymous Alerts President Gregory Bender regarding the new school safety app.
Watch the report HERE.
Marcel: Welcome Back. The Texas School for the Deaf is partnering with a new school safety app. It’s called Anonymous Alerts. This app is a way to communicate or address bullying and other safety school concerns.
Today, I’m joined by Gregory Bender, the founder and President for Anonymous Alerts and Claire Bugen, she’s the Texas School for the Deaf superintendent. Thank you so much for being here.
Let’s start with the app, Gregory. It pretty much allows a two-way communication channel between almost anyone. How will it make sure it connects the right people?
Gregory: Well, with every client throughout Texas and nationwide, whether that’s Newtown or Texas School for the Deaf, we preset up those groups. So, when the student selects an incident report it goes directly to a school principal or if it’s a safety issue it can also go to a safety director automatically and quickly and instantly.
Marcel: And Claire how will the school make sure the app is only used for serious or urgent issues?
Claire: Well, first of all, we’ll have training with the students on how to use the app. The students just returned to school yesterday. And we’ve been training all of the supervisors and principals and staff. And now we will begin to train the students. We will teach them the seriousness of the app and it is an opportunity for them to share information if they become aware of a situation involving other students or themselves. They will have an anonymous confidential way to report that information through the app.
Marcel: Okay. And lets talk about emergency cases, Gregory, where other students may be in danger, the school may have to go on lockdown, could that app tell exactly where that warning or threat to where it’s sent from?
Gregory: Well, it’s completely anonymous, 100 percent anonymous as well. But this past school year, from 2018 to 2019 we’ve thwarted three school shootings nationwide. And that’s where a student came forward, had a voice, and talked about his safety concern, whether that was a student bringing a handgun, weapons, and knives to school and possibly shooting up the classroom and or that lunchroom that day.
Marcel: Okay. So having this app be anonymous, Claire, a lot of students could come out to express how they’re feeling. If one starts expressing feelings of anxiety or depression, how would the school go about to helping out that student?
Claire: Well, one of the beautiful aspects of this app is that it allows you to tailor the response to the student according to the nature of their information. So if its a bullying outcry, it might go to an assistant principal or principal. If it happens to be something related to depression or a self-harm threat, then it would be directed to a counselor or to a social worker. So, the app allows you to customize both who you want to receive the information from the student and it allows the student to choose from a menu of options to express their concerns.
Marcel: Well, we are excited to see what happens with this app. Claire and Gregory, thank you so much for being here.