Councilors want hotline for students to report suspicious behavior

Councilors want hotline for students to report suspicious behavior

Superintendent Morisseau: We’re already taking steps

NORTH PROVIDENCE – This town is ahead of many others when it comes to student safety, but officials say they want more to be done.

Town Council President Dino Autiello, at a meeting set to be held Tuesday, March 6, planned to propose a letter to the North Providence School Department asking educators to look into instituting a student hotline to report suspicious behavior.

Similar to the town’s whistleblower system, the hotline would allow students to share information anonymously about a fellow student acting in a way that could signal violence is coming, said Autiello.

Councilor Ken Amoriggi said he and Autiello are of the same mind that safety measures should be increased in North Providence schools.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Amoriggi was planning to ask that greater safety measures be incorporated into plans for two new schools and upgrades of other schools.

The town has done well at being on the forefront of student safety, using money from its $60 million windfall from a settlement with Google in 2012 to install a new active shooter detection system at the high school, said Autiello. He said there is always room for improvement when it comes to student safety, especially in light of the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school and other shootings across the country.

School Supt. Bridget Morisseau said the district has established an online reporting system called TIPS, available on the district website at npsd.k12.ri.us .

With regard to the two new schools that are being constructed, “security and safety measures have been incorporated and are aligned to best practices in new school construction,” she said.

In addition to having a secure main entrance leading directly into a secure area of the main office, camera systems and additional security measures will be incorporated into the new buildings, she said.

“We are working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Education, as well as our local police and fire departments, to ensure that all designs are reflective of state and local requirements.”

There’s been a small amount of chatter among North Providence High School students about participating in a nationwide student walkout planned for Wednesday, March 14, an event designed to draw attention to the issue of student safety and need for greater enforcement of gun laws.

Principal Joe Goho told the The North Providence Breeze that students were told he won’t sanction a walkout, but students and staff are having discussions about trying to do something inside the building from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m. that day to recognize the issue and honor the 17 victims.

“To be determined,” he said.

Autiello said the student hotline in North Providence could be modeled after one in Fall River, Mass., where students are urged to question suspicious behavior and report it if they feel uncomfortable. While the town’s whistleblower hotline was essentially put in place for free, with a volunteer citizen fielding the complaints, Autiello said he is not sure a hotline on the school side could be done at no cost.