Topic:
SCHOOLS (GENERAL); ALCOHOL/DRUG ABUSE; FEDERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS; GRANTS; SEXUAL HARASSMENT; TELEPHONE; WEAPONS; SAFETY (GENERAL);
Location:
SCHOOLS - VIOLENCE;

OLR Research Report


March 28, 2006

 

2006-R-0223

STATEWIDE TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR TOLL-FREE SCHOOL SAFETY TELEPHONE HOTLINE

By: Evgenia Misenzhnikova, Legislative Fellow

You asked for general information about statewide 24-hour school safety hotlines and how they operate in different states.

SUMMARY

Statewide school safety telephone hotlines operate in many states. Their main purpose is to prevent school violence by enabling students, parents, teachers, school staff, and community members to report information about potential school violence. Hotlines are toll-free, operate year round, 24 hours every day. People can make reports about violence, weapons, threats, thefts or property damage, drug or alcohol abuse, or sexual harassment.

Typically hotline information is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school district authorities. They decide the appropriate way of handling each case. Most hotline callers remain anonymous. However, in some states, like Missouri, a caller may leave his or her name and a request for a follow-up action.

In some states, the hotlines are operated by law enforcement entities and in others, by private entities or by state and private entities together. The funding for the hotlines comes from different sources. For example, some hotlines are funded by state agencies; some are funded by the administering agency's budget. At least one hotline is funded by a federal grant.

Several hotlines were established pursuant to specific authorizing legislation. Others were established pursuant to broader laws that require, for instance, that schools adopt safety plans.

Details of the Oregon and Missouri programs are described below.

OREGON

Oregon law authorizes the state's Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish and operate a toll-free school safety hotline. Its main purpose is to enable students and members of the community to report criminal or suspicious activities on school grounds. The law requires DOJ to adopt rules of hotline operation and incorporate a provision about protection of the identity of the caller. The appropriate school district and local law enforcement agency are required to take responsibility for the follow-up action on the received reports. The school district is responsible for providing the department with a list of all its contacts with the local law enforcement agency. Operation of the hotline is subject to the availability of appropriations. DOJ must secure the funds for hotline operation. DOJ can contract a private company or another state agency to operate the hotline (Or. Rev. Stat. 180.650).

MISSOURI

According to a Missouri Safe Schools newsletter, during the period October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004, allegations made by callers of the hotline broke down as follows:

Reports of:

 

Threats

60% of the time

Assaults

51%

Bullying

45%

Weapons

8%

Sexual misconduct

7%

Theft

2%

Property Damage

2%

Other

2%

The most frequent reporters were parents. More information about Missouri School Violence Hotline is available at http://education.umkc.edu/safe-school/documents/Nov04nl.pdf

Table 1 provides a comparison of hotlines in different states.

Table 1: Comparison of Safety Hotlines in Various States

State

Hotline Administered/ Operated By

Funded by

Comments

Colorado

Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Colorado State Patrol

Colorado Trust Fund with support from Attorney General and Colorado CBI

Hotline began operating in 1999 pursuant to School Safety Hotline Act; no statutory authorization.

Florida

Florida's Sheriffs Association under Department of Education contract

State Department of Education

Law authorized Department of Education to establish a hotline. (Fla. Stat. Ann. 1006.141); hotline began operating in 2001 in 30 counties, before the law was passed (2002).

Georgia

Georgia Bureau of Investigation in partnership with Department of Education

State Department of Education

Hotline established in 1999 pursuant to law requiring school districts to have school safety plan to decrease violence in schools (Ga. Code Ann. 20-2-1185)

Kansas

Kansas Highway Patrol

Legislative appropriations – $10,000 per year

Hotline established in 1999; no statutory authorization.

Mississippi

Department of Public Safety

State Department of Education

Hotline established pursuant to a 2001 law (Miss. Code Ann. 37-393(d)); hotline began operating in 1999, before the law went into effect.

Missouri

Department of Public Safety

Department of Public Safety through funds from US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Hotline began operation in 2001 pursuant to Safe Schools Act. Mo. Rev. Stat. 160.261 requires each school to develop a policy which defines acts of violence and school principal to report such acts to local law enforcement agency.

Oklahoma

Security Voice Inc.

Department of Education uses Safe and Drug-free Schools funding

Hotline established pursuant to law, requiring school districts to have school safety plan to protect student safety (Okla. Stat. Ann. 63-681); hotline began operating in 1998.

Table 1: continued

State

Hotline Administered/ Operated By

Funded by

Comments

Oregon

Hotline is administered by Department of Justice (DOJ); Ethics Point Service operates pursuant to DOJ contract

U.S. Department of Education grant

2001 law authorized DOJ to establish hotline (Or. Rev. Stat. 180.650); The hotline was created by attorney general and superintendent of Public Instruction and began operating in 2004.

West Virginia

West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office

Originally funded through local county school boards; currently, by West Virginia Department of Education

W. Vir. Code 18-5A-2 requires the establishment of school improvement council. The council is required to develop guidelines, including a system of communication between school and local emergency services agencies. Hotline began operating in 2004.

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