StopIt: New city program targets hazing and bullying

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The Cleveland Board of Education and the school system’s administration are taking steps to enable students to more easily report incidents of bullying, hazing and other offenses.

The school board, at Thursday’s meeting at the central office, approved a $3,600 expense for the school system to enroll for one year in the StopIt Program. This is an online program where students can immediately contact an authority figure, or supervisor.

In approving the one-year enrollment, board members also requested a six-month update on the success and/or anticipations for the program.

The StopIt Program is being provided by the Tennessee Risk Management Company, and board member Dawn Robinson is a member of the trust’s board.

Tom Montgomery made Thursday’s presentation.

“We brought this program to board, and several schools have already signed up,” said Montgomery.

“Kids can load the application on their phones, where they can manage serious incidents,” Montgomery said. He added this can be very beneficial for students, because they have created another world in social media.

“It protects students, protects schools, and protects community,” he added in his sales pitch.

Addressing an inquiry from board member Steve Morgan about success to date at schools of 1,200 students or more (like Cleveland High School), Montgomery said the program is still in its start-up stage.

Director of Schools Dr. Marton Ringstaff explained that the way such situations are currently handled is that the students report to the school resource officer.

“I would like this, because it is something we can track,” said Ringstaff. “I love the program, and tracking is simple.”

Board member Dr. Murl Dirksen suggested the board put a group together (of Cleveland High and Cleveland Middle administrators) and look at this opportunity. He said the board should decide “if the program is needed or not.”

Kellye Bender, supervisor of Secondary Education, said her team has looked at the program.

Morgan asked what type of program Cleveland schools now have, and was told by Ringstaff the schools have nothing (except the traditional SRO).

Ringstaff added he felt the program is feasible, continuing to state he likes its ability to track of origination of calls.

“We’re here to serve and protect our students,” the director said in giving a 100 percent recommendation to the StopIt Program.

The board then approved the one-year trial. Administrators will be able to wire the notification system on what they feel will be specific needs.

The StopIt Program is expected to be a deterrent to any student contemplating offensive behavior or actions.

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