Petition for the Reformation of the PISD Tip-Line Scheme

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The ongoing, district-wide campaign to promote “vigilance” within the student body, impressing upon pupils the slogan “see something, say something,” has given rise to a spate of abuses of the district’s tip line scheme by overzealous, budding moralists and outright bullies. Several students have faced invariably public humiliation after being reported for minor, absurd, or nonexistent infractions of school code, occasionally well beyond a reasonable statute of limitations.


The quixotic program with its stated aim to improve campus safety seems to have done the opposite, creating an infallible outlet for the pursuit of vendettas against peers and the legitimization of rumors. Under the present system, tips can be anonymous, with students being inconvenienced or wrongly punished in the wake of questionable reports. Indeed, school administration, operating out of an overabundance of caution appears to have already detained and erroneously disciplined students without careful consideration of their perspective. Some students now threaten to tip line, sometimes following through, as a sick joke or a novel form of bullying. What better way to get to a student than to anonymously instruct school administration to interrogate him/her as a potential “school shooter”?


The growth of this scheme has created an environment of fear on campus, raising the specter of an Orwellian surveillance state atmosphere in which we are surrounded by peers instructed to report any scandalous remark or action, heard or witnessed out of context in passing.


We would never ask for the outright abolition of the program, only for obvious reforms to ensure accountable, accurate, and relevant reports.


Those who here affix their signatures would propose the following:


That anonymous tips not be considered


Too often, tips are submitted, not in the interest of school safety or wellbeing, but to further personal hostilities. An anonymous tip makes it clear that the source is unsure of its relevance or fearful of being discovered. This seems evidence enough of foul play and there is no compelling reason to consider such information. Assurances of confidentiality for legitimate tips are acceptable but there must be accountability for those who misuse the system.


That tips involving serious threats of violence be directed to the Plano Police Department


Recent events highlight the importance of a robust system to prevent acts of violence on campus. It is too important an issue to be left to a weak, ineffectual program. Matters of public security are above the pay grade of school administration and must be treated as such.


That students are asked to exercise restraint in the behavior which they report


A system overloaded with unimportant or outright silly tips from intrusive or malicious students is ill-equipped to handle relevant threats to campus well-being or academic integrity. Unlike 911 services, there is neither a culture of restraint nor an acceptance of the gravity of the program with regards to the district tip line.


That school administration exercise restraint in their treatment of “information”


School administration must be discerning in the tips to which they respond, especially those concerning speech. They must consider whether or not it is their place to implicate themselves in private matters and accept that it is neither right nor feasible to control the speech and behavior of students unless it constitutes a realistic threat to the security of the student body or academic fairness.

 



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