Starting with the 2021-22 school year, school districts must register with the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Safer Ohio School Tip Line or enter into an agreement with an anonymous reporting program of the district’s choosing.
A district’s reporting system should allow students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety. Under RC 3313.6610, the reporting system must meet the following requirements:
- Operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week;
- Forward reported information to and coordinate with the appropriate school threat assessment teams and law enforcement and public safety agencies required under the school’s emergency management plan developed under RC 5502.262;
- Be promoted in each district school to inform students about the reporting program and its reporting methods;
- Comply with RC 149.433, RC 3319.321 and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
On an annual basis, districts are required to submit data to the Ohio Department of Education and DPS. The departments have created a data collection worksheet to collect information, including the following statutorily-required information:
- The number and type of disciplinary actions taken in the previous school year as a result of anonymous reports;
- The number and type of mental wellness referrals as a result of anonymous reports;
- The race and gender of the students subject to disciplinary actions and mental wellness referrals as a result of anonymous reports.
To help districts comply with the new statutory requirements, the Ohio School Safety Center has issued a FAQ document on the anonymous reporting system requirements. Their website also includes resources about the Safer Ohio School Tip Line and sample letters districts can use to put students, staff, parents and guardians on notice of their reporting systems.
If you have questions about the new requirement, please contact OSBA’s Division of Legal Services at 855-OSBA-LAW.