ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- An Albemarle County school is beginning to use an app that will allow people to anonymously report threatening, abusive or unsafe behavior.
Western Albemarle High School began piloting the app, called Anonymous Alerts, on Monday. The pilot runs through the end of this school year.
The Albemarle County Public Schools division hopes to make the app operational for all of its schools in the fall.
According to a release, the app is currently used in more than 5,000 schools across the country, and it allows any member of the school community to file an online report of an incident or concern.
Students, parents and staff can file reports about bullying, drug possession, alcohol or weapons on campus, sexual harassment or assault, vandalism, theft, violent behavior, suicidal expressions, and threats made against people or a building.
"This is another major step forward in our continuous improvement actions to safeguard the safety and well-being of students, staff and families," said Dr. Nichols King, the Student Services Officer and coordinator of the community-based School Safety Advisory Committee for ACPS. "Among the most important words in the safety realm are 'when you see something, say something.' That's not always easy for a child or teenager. An anonymous reporting capability gets at that reluctance and also is an efficient way to react in real time to prevent a tragedy."
The release says some students did report recent social media threats that were made against Charlottesville and Albemarle high schools to the school division.
King says officials know there are times when a student would prefer to let someone know about serious concerns in a private format, so having the anonymous system will possibly make them more comfortable with reporting them.
Members of the WAHS community can now open the reporting app on the school's homepage, and it will guide them through a series of steps to file a report. The app can also be downloaded.
Any reports that are submitted go to the school's principal to be investigated. In instances of social-emotional concerns, the report will also be sent to a school counselor.
Any reports concerning dangerous substances or items on campus will be sent to the ACPS central office as well.
The reporting system also has some special features, including one that allows a person making a report to engage in an online conversation with the principal while still remaining anonymous. The reporting person can request a face-to-face if desired.
For more information, click on the link in the Related Links box. The link to the Anonymous Alerts reporting page is on the right side of the top of the page, under Featured Links on the WAHS page.