MARIETTA BOARD OF EDUCATION: Students allowed to text cops Goal is to strengthen safety both in, out of school

ajc.com

By Alexis Stevens

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Students aren’t usually allowed to use their cellphones at school. But under the ”Text a Cop” plan, Marietta High School students won’t face disciplinary action for their efforts to keep their school safe.

The Marietta school board voted 6-0 Tuesday night to allow students to send text messages to two police officers on campus.

”It’s just the way our students communicate these days,” said Marietta High principal Leigh Colburn, who said parents are excited about the progressive program. ”Marietta wants to be out front of school safety.”

The idea is that students will be encouraged to report items of concern, whether it be rumored plans of other students, or something more personal, such as abuse.

Marietta Lt. Cliff Kelker said if something serious is happening on campus, text messages will provide quick response.

”We can get help faster than any other way we have out there,” said Kelker, who oversees school resource officers.

Marietta High’s 1,900 students are served by two officers, Andrew Fondas and Jeff Reed, as well as a black Lab named Blue.

Rather than a full phone number, students will be provided a six-digit number that they can message 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A company calledmobileStorm of California will monitor the texts and alert officers when needed, Kelker said.

Cellphone numbers are not easily tracked, helping preserve students’ anonymity when reporting issues.

”If it works once, it’s worth it,” said board member Tom Smith.

 

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