Garland ISD launches app for anonymous tips

Students in the Garland Independent School District can report problems anonymously with a new smartphone app.

The school district has Anonymous Alerts set up on about 54,000 devices including iPads and Chromebooks throughout its schools. It’s also available as a smartphone app for parents and students to download.

The app allows anyone to anonymously report about 51 different types of incidents – anything from bullying, self-harm, drugs and alcohol use or campus safety concerns like a school shooting plot.

The information is sent directly to school officials. Those officials can establish an anonymous two-way line of communication to discuss the incident.

More than 130 school districts in Texas are already using the Anonymous Alerts app in part because of David’s Law, which requires school districts to create an avenue to report bullying.

Garland ISD began using Anonymous Alerts in September. They get about three reports a day with the top incidents being bullying, followed by assault and thoughts of suicide.

The app is mostly used by students but it is also available for any teachers, parents or members of the community who want to report problems.

Garland ISD said it’s already credited for helping to save four lives.

“If you tell us, we’re going to respond. We take every alert seriously and we can notify the right people, the police department, the counselors, principals. Security monitors it 24 hours a day,” said Pat Lamb, Garland ISD’s security director.

Anonymous Alerts also has another app called Smart Button. In North Texas, it’s currently being used by Krum ISD.

The app connects school staff with local law enforcement and triage teams during crisis situations. And with the press of a button, the school can be placed on lockdown and GPS coordinates are sent out to help pinpoint the suspect.

Garland ISD said it is considering using Smart Button too. If it decides to use it, the proposal would have to be approved by the school board.