Wake Schools to test out digital 'panic button' for teachers, staff

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, February 26, 2024
Wake Schools to test out digital 'panic button' for teachers, staff
The school district's security committee plans to present board members with the introduction of a pilot program focused on school safety.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ahead of the Wake County Public Schools board meeting Tuesday, the district's security committee plans to present board members with the introduction of a pilot program aimed at school safety.

The district's office of security has prepared a presentation about equipping select school staffers and personnel with a mobile app to use in the event of emergencies and non-emergencies on school campuses across Wake County.

The app, called RAVE Mobile Security, will allow users to do a variety of functions to alert school staff and emergency responders of situations on campus. Such as requesting staff assistance for non-emergency situations that don't require a phone call to 911, and providing emergency personnel with geodata location that pinpoints where on campus the alert is coming from, and delivering other important information.

Additionally, in the center of the reporting app, there is a large "active assailant" button to notify authorities and school staff of an active shooter on a school campus.

"I mean, anything will help. Teachers have a tough job right now," said Wake County mother Debbie Drew. She pulled her child out of WCPSS a while back because of security and safety concerns. "Too many things are going on in this world. And I worry about our children."

Meanwhile, Felicia and Neal Roberts have three children they are most concerned about.

They share in Drew's school of thought that RAVE Mobile Security is a good idea for the district.

"You never know when there's going to be a bad situation and we want our kids to be safe," said Neal Roberts. "And a panic button would help with access to emergency personnel early, which is crucial."

Felicia Roberts shared that belief and would like the WCPSS Board to offer additional solutions to complement the app.

"It's also important to make sure that even though this is a great tool for the teachers, it shouldn't be their sole responsibility to keep the students safe," she said. "The board needs to come to a decision and a consensus on how to make sure that when the students enter the school that they have nothing on them and that it's a safe learning environment where the whole student is addressed."

The state already paid nearly $4.7 million to implement the program at all K-12 schools and charter schools across North Carolina at a cost of roughly $3.25 per student, $2,017 per school, and $40,500 per district.

A district spokesperson confirmed that districts will not be required to use the app and it will be discretionary to each respective district.

WCPSS plans to introduce the application software to 28 schools across the district at random, beginning in April. The pilot program will run through the fourth quarter of the school year before any additional decision is made.

According to district documents, the application will only be made available to school personnel and not students. Each school employee who wants to participate in the pilot will need to download the app to their mobile device.