Originally created 07/31/98

Schools get hot line for students to report unsafe situations



Columbia County school officials say a state school safety hot line may help stop violence before it strikes an area school.

"I guess it's always nice to have something else to give people a say, but I think, by and large, in Columbia County, people have the idea that our schools are safe anyway," Columbia County School Superintendent Tom Dohrmann said.

The hot line, (877) SAY STOP, is expected to be up and running by mid-August, according to state Department of Education officials. They say the hot line will be another way for students and parents to report unsafe situations. It was implemented after a rash of school shootings across the nation during the last school year.

"The toll-free hot line is another tool to help make our schools safer, so children can learn and teachers can teach," said State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko.

Dr. Dohrmann is optimistic that the hot line -- which will be operated out of the Georgia Department of Education and monitored by the state's program manager for Safe and Drug Free Schools -- will receive few calls from Columbia County students and parents.

"It's a wait-and-see type thing," he said. "Maybe students will call in, maybe not."

Notifications to the number will be posted in the state's 1,800 public schools. Initially, hot line hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but could change with the demand and volume of calls.

During off-hours, voice mail will receive messages. Local school superintendents and law enforcement officials will be notified once a call has been received from their area. Superintendents will be asked to notify the state education department about any actions taken because of the call.