The creation of inter-agency partnerships, hiring of more class III law enforcement officers and school resource officers, and the use of the new “STOP!T” app are among school safety and security measures being implemented in Central Jersey districts in the wake of gun violence, particularly earlier this year in Parkland, Florida.
The Warren School District and the Diocese of Metuchen have incorporated the “STOP!T” app into their safety and security measures. The ‘STOP!T’ program, also employed by law enforcement personnel, empowers students with an easy app to safely and anonymously report anything of concern to school officials, said Ellen Ayoub, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Metuchen.
“This would range from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm,” Ayoub said. “The app allows students to stand up for themselves or others while giving the schools the insight they need to keep students safe.”
Diocese of Metuchen
In addition to the annual review of School Emergency Plans created in conjunction with local law enforcement and routine emergency response safety drills, students will be introduced to the STOP!T program this year, said Ayoub, the superintendent of schools for the diocese which includes Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties.
The new program is the result of a meeting conducted last spring following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, between Bishop James F. Checchio and student leaders from each of the diocese’s four high schools. They discussed concerns regarding safety and security in schools. During the meeting, students shared their worries about being able to report suspicious behavior and safety concerns in a way that did not target students yet alerted the administration to situations in the school.
The Warren Township School District “has taken an all-hazards approach to enhancing safety and security in the district,” said Shannon Regan, the district’s human resources and communications coordinator.
Enhancements for the 2018-2019 school year will include rolling out the STOP!T application at Warren Middle School and fully utilizing the district’s recently designated school safety specialists, Regan said. The district recently engaged Safe Havens International for a School Safety, Security, and Emergency Management Assessment, a follow up to a 2014 assessment. The district will review and implement those suggestions through a multi-faced action plan to further enhance the schools’ safety and security.