Cover design by Riona Faruqi
In November 2022, M-A students were found with guns on campus on two separate occasions only 19 days apart. Thanks to anonymous information provided to M-A administrators, the guns were not used. However, these incidents rattled the school community and highlighted a new and pressing issue for the District. “That was a pretty stark reminder that we needed some way for information to come to us anonymously,” said Administrative Vice-Principal Nicholas Muys.
In response to these events, M-A’s administration reached out to the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) to explore new ways to collect anonymous information. For the remainder of the 2022-23 school year, the administration used School Messenger-– the district-wide communication tool— to collect information. They advertised the system around campus in bathrooms, classrooms, and hallways.
Muys explained that the implementation of the tip line helped prevent a few more “pretty serious incidents.” However, due to the ability of anonymity, some students abused the tip line and submitted tips with useless information. “It became clear to us that we needed some assistance with fielding the responses and making sure that the concerns were being routed to the appropriate place,” Muys said.
Additionally, the tip line was run through the administration office and therefore couldn’t address tips submitted after school hours until the following morning. This meant that if information was submitted regarding the safety of students after school hours, there was no way to immediately contact proper authorities.
In response to these concerns, the administration, with help from the District, connected with the Sandy Hook Promise organization and their Say Something platform. They phased out the old tip line this past September and replaced it with the Say Something platform’s anonymous tip line.
In contrast to the old tip line, the Say Something tip line is supported by a triage center that fields calls 24 hours a day and provides support to students via text. It also categorizes submitted information by urgency and immediately alerts M-A administrators and sometimes district administrators when necessary.
Recently, during lunch on Friday, October 27, multiple fights broke out on campus between students, resulting in lunch ending early and extensive hall sweeps. In an email sent out to parents and students that weekend, Principal Karl Losekoot wrote, “In the aftermath, we heard rumors that a weapon was seen on campus. We are following up on every statement being made and including Atherton PD so that they may investigate as well.” Losekoot asked M-A community members to continue to utilize the Say Something tip line to submit additional information regarding the fights.
Muys explained that the tip line played a major role in resolving Friday’s altercations and ensuring the safety of students and staff. “We had a lot of people reaching out to us about what they had seen or allegedly seen or heard, and information just came to us in all kinds of ways,” he said.
As part of the Say Something platform, a variety of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculums and materials are provided to participating schools. Muys said that for M-A, the main focus has been to establish the tip line in order to prevent incidents like the altercations on Friday. This has prevented the school from implementing much of the Say Something’s SEL material into class curriculums.
The administration briefly introduced SEL concepts through a Say Something video students watched during a closed Flextime earlier this year. However, technical difficulties during the presentation prevented many students from watching more than four minutes of the twenty-minute-long video.
In the future, Muys hopes to include more aspects of SEL curriculum in classes such as Ethnic Studies and Life Skills. “A one-time curriculum offering is not going to move the needle. For school and emotional safety, we have more to explore,” Muys said.
If students need to report any information to administration or just need someone to talk to they can access the tip line through M-A’s website or through QR codes shown on Say Something flyers throughout the school. If used, students’ identity will be kept completely confidential and the proper authorities will be contacted to help resolve the situation.