PORTLAND, OR -- A Portland-area high school closed Friday following an anonymous report of a threat. It was later deemed not credible, but authorities say the incident showcases the work of a state tipline designed to improve school safety.
The anonymous tip about a possible school shooting at Tigard High came in to Safe Oregon Thursday night. Due to the late report, officials chose to close the school Friday, while they investigated. Safe Oregon Program Manager Coral Smith tells KBND News, "We will work very closely with school administration when any tip comes in, but especially any that are classified critical or urgent." The program is administered by Oregon State Police, and Smith says teams triage the information and determine whether to involve law enforcement, school administrators or both. While every incident is different, she says they err on the side of caution if school safety is in question.
Since opening in 2017, Safe Oregon has received nearly 10,000 tips via web, mobile app, phone call and text. But Smith says fewer than 1% are considered "critical" - like the threat of a shooting. "The top three incident types of tips that we've received overall," she says, "has been bullying and harassment - so that’s really peer-to-peer behavior; suicidal ideation - either reported by the student or on behalf of another student; and alcohol or drug concerns."
So far this school year, Safe Oregon has received more than 1,200 reports of concerning behaviors or threats. "The purpose behind it is for students, teachers even, parents, to be able to have an outlet where they can anonymously or confidentially report behaviors, actions they may have seen that are of a concern." Smith adds, "Students are usually the first ones to notice when a friend or peer’s behavior changes or might be concerning, and they may have worries about tattling on their friends or possible retaliation from the friend group. So this is a great way to voice those concerns without adding their name to that."
She says a lot of tips relate to things seen on social media, and screenshots are helpful, "Please report the information, and then don’t send it along to other parents, students, etc. Once it’s reported, we want to look into it, but not create panic and hysteria over what could potentially be a non-issue."