District Launches Text-A-Tip Hotline at LBHS

The Text-A-Tip hotline provides students, staff and parents a way to report school-related concerns immediately and confidentially through the use of a cell phone.

(Image courtesy Laguna Beach Unified School District)
(Image courtesy Laguna Beach Unified School District)

A few months after two girls were allegedly found smoking heroin in a bathroom at Laguna Beach High School, district officials have created a confidential way for  students, parents and staff the ability to report suspicious behavior on campus, officials reported.

Developed to help maintain student safety, the Text-A-Tip program allows tipsters to report concerns - including drug use, suspicion of weapons and bullying- to school officials by calling in or sending a text message to the hotline from a cell phone.

"Every text and voicemail is logged and we will work collaboratively to assess the validity of each one," Bob Billinger, LBHS assistant principal, said. "If the information happens to be false or a misuse of the hotline, provisions have been established to address those who misuse this valuable tool.”

District officials said the idea to start Text-A-Tip was developed during school campus safety trainings with the Laguna Beach Police Department, but the idea to launch it immediately was sparked when the heroin incident came to light.

"Subsequently a more immediate need to initiate the program developed based on the event that occurred in November at LBHS, in an effort to create a proactive way for students, staff and parents to report school-related concerns confidentially," Leisa Winston, district spokeswoman, explained.

When a tip is received, school officials will conduct investigations and consult with police if the tip appears to be related to a potential crime, Winston added. While the Text-A-Tip hotline is confidential, it is not anonymous and tipsters may receive follow-up texts for more details or clarification of the initial text.

Text-A-Tip posters with program detail are displayed throughout the campus and students were made aware of it in their English class. Principal Joanne Culverhouse said students have already began voicing their appreciation for the program.

“We have caring and conscientious students on our campus and I am confident they will use this new system to report incidents that will keep their peers safe,” Culverhouse said.

It's important to note Text-A-Tip is only a tip line, so in the event of an actual emergency, students, parents and staff are urged to call 911.

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