Switching gears back to education, Rick met with Bradley County Public Schools Safety and Security Director, Scotty Hernandez.
Scotty is really leading the way in providing his school and SRO team with the TIPS secure platform to both report concerning behaviors and document all investigation efforts and daily activities to create an ongoing database of information that can be used to ensure all students are being responded to appropriately. As Scotty mentions in the interview, ensuring all incidents are tracked from beginning to end to show what steps were taken to prevent incidents from escalating provides the accountability necessary for a school community.
An excerpt from Scotty’s interview with Rick is below. To listen to the full conversation, click here.
Why did your school district see the need for an incident management and prevent platform like TIPS? What challenges were you facing?
For us at the county level, it started way before Sandy Hook happened. But when Sandy Hook happened, we had to meet with all of the county, and discuss what we could do to prevent what had happened. We needed to find a way to let students be able to talk about what they were hearing safely. We first looked at a phone line, so students could safely report things, but after searching further we found TIPS. So basically that is how it evolved. Some of the challenges we were facing as a district were knowing if we could go back and see that we tried to prevent things, but paper gets lost and things happen. With TIPS we are able to track everything from the beginning to the end. It has been a great tool.
How does your school promote TIPS ongoing to student, parents, staff, etc.?
When we rolled it out, I had meetings with the district, principals and staff, and local sheriff office. We have this posted many different places, even as far as the sheriff’s office and it is on our webpage. Open communication process, that this is an option and available to you. We have had parents use it and we get back to them quickly as well.
What feedback have you received from your school community (student, parents, staff) about TIPS?
I can tell you what feedback we have not received is anything negative. When I brought this to the table we had a lot of people concerned that we would have false reporting. We have used this for the last 3-4 years and I have never received a false report. We have received a lot of good feedback, even from students, where students felt good that principals have gotten back to them in a timely manner, and they said they didn’t think anyone would respond to them.
You are using TIPS in a big way for your SRO. What do they use the system for and how has this helped you validate funding for both your SROs and TIPS ongoing?
The TIPS platform is pretty flexible, the SROs might get reports and handle them that way, or use them as an activity report. The way it is set up is the SROs and their supervisors can see it, or the sheriff can go back and see. They use it like a daily log, they can report incidents through it or they can print off a report throughout the whole year. The SROs are very engaged in every day activates and wear a lot of hats, and this is things we put in TIPS to show a record of it. SROs like it because if students transfer they can go in TIPS and search a student’s name and look back on their reports that have been recorded for this student.
How has TIPS helped you proactively prevent incidents and situations from escalating? Examples?
One that just pops in my head is a student reported that they were having incidents on the bus and we were able to get in and talk with both principals from the two schools that were on the bus and figure out a way to stop this from happening. Two different school were using the same bus.
Looking back at before you had TIPS compared to now as you have rolled out TIPS and more and more people are using TIPS, what would you say are the most valuable benefits?
The benefit right off the bat is the accountability piece. If someone reports something in TIPS, the correct person has the access to the report and they can go in and get the case right away. They can get in and get the incident handled in a timely manner. Being able to see that staff has logged in and handled the incident helps provide a lot of accountability.
Any other comments/lessons learned you would like to share regarding TIPS?
It is a good platform to use. A lot of people are more comfortable using an online system now a days. Even though face to face is very important, students need a way to feel comfortable logging in and reporting incidents. For us it is very cost effective as well. The more you put information out in the public, the more the public appreciates it.