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Newport Harbor launches tip line

Students can privately text administrators to report problems on campus.

March 13, 2014|By Hannah Fry

Newport Harbor High School students are using their smartphones to let high school administrators know what's going on with them.

Administrators launched a tip line last week, allowing students to privately text officials to report bullying, fighting, drugs and alcohol on campus, among other things, said Assistant Principal Jack Cusick.

"There are certain things that never get brought to our attention because people are afraid of retribution," he said. "This system seems to be the 21st century equivalent of dropping an anonymous note in a mailbox."

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Student Wyatt Robertson, a senior, said he's a fan of the system so far.

Several students have used it to alert administrators to underclassmen parking in the senior lot, he said.

"It's been an issue for us, and now the school is taking notice," he said.

Newport-Mesa Unified administrators considered implementing a similar program districtwide in the fall, but the idea was placed on the back burner after trustees raised questions about the confidentiality of the program.

The district's legal department planned to review the proposal at the time, but it was never brought back to the board for approval, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

Several district officials, including Boss, weren't aware that Newport Harbor had instituted the tip line until Robertson brought it up during Tuesday's board meeting.

"We're currently working with [the school] to make sure the legal issues that came up when we were looking at it aren't a problem," Boss said.

Students seem to be using the program appropriately, Cusick said.

"Of course we've had a few goof balls using it as a message board to say, "`hello,'" he said.

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