- Associated Press - Sunday, January 31, 2016

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) - Cleveland City middle and high school students will be able to report incidents of bullying using a phone application.

The Cleveland school board voted on Thursday to adopt the STOPit program following a presentation by Tennessee Risk Management Trust officials.

TRMT safety representative Chris Stipes said the bullying reporting system is essentially an application that students can load on their phones, allowing them to immediately and anonymously contact school administrators.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (https://bit.ly/1Sunf0E) the annual STOPit subscription costs 69 cents per student, or about $1,900 for the approximately 2,800 students enrolled in Cleveland’s middle and high schools.

Stipes said the program allows incident tracking at the school or administrative level to ensure claims are completed.

Cleveland City Schools Superintendent Martin Ringstaff said officials believe the STOPit digital system, which replaces an anonymous reporting box at school offices, is a safer, better and quicker option.

Ringstaff said that while other digital bullying reporting systems are available, STOPit does all the incident tracking for school administration.

“We are concerned that it would be abused by students every now and then, but I really don’t think it will be,” he said.

School officials plan to roll the program out to grades six through 12.

“It is two-way communication that is anonymous, but the biggest deterrent is that everyone knows that there is an opportunity to report,” Stipes said.

Stipes said the app allows users to specify types of incidents such as violence or drugs. It can be used to report online bullying and includes options to call a toll-free crisis line.

School board member Murl Dirksen expressed concerns before the vote that the new system might add to administrators’ workload.

Ringstaff said that the workload “is going to be there one way or the other for the administrators. This just allows us to protect our administrators.”

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