Anonymous Texting Program Expands to School Safety Concerns

Aug 9, 2018

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley explains the new school safety component of Project Stand Up at a press conference during the joint Associated School Boards of South Dakota and School Administrators of South Dakota conference at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
Credit Jackie Hendry

Project Stand Up was first used to text anonymous drug tips to law enforcement. Now it’s expanding to cover concerns about school safety, making South Dakota the 7th state in the nation with such a program. 

By texting the word SAFE to the Project Stand Up number, users answer prompts about the potential threat. Those messages are monitored in real time and sent to appropriate law enforcement and school administrators.

Rob Monson is the executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota. He says education is all about adding tools to a tool box, and safety issues are no different.

“There’s school sentinels, there’s resource officers, there’s all sorts of things we appreciate having in our schools, and this is just one more of those things that will help us do our jobs better,” says Monson.

Monson says the bottom line is keeping students and staff safe in schools.

Wade Pogany is the executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. While more recent mass shootings have caused a heightened public awareness of school safety, he says this is nothing new for school boards.

“We’ve been concerned about school safety since Columbine. I mean, we’ve been doing a lot of stuff. You can go to any school and there are safety plans, there are a host of things that they’re doing. But, we don’t stop there. And so like Rob said, if we can add one more tool to the box, let’s do that," says Pogany.

Both Pogany and Monson say they appreciate the early collaboration with law enforcement in developing the

prompts for Project Stand Up’s school safety component. The prompts include a description of the threat, the location, and a chance to send any relevant pictures or videos.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says it makes sense to expand on an already successful program. He notes that the project is not funded by tax dollars, and it’s been possible thanks to business contributions.

“Sanford has been generous to the attorney general’s office and to these programs. We’re able to function off of about 25 thousand dollars a year to run Project Stand Up on drugs along with school safety, which is very cost-effective given the magnitude of this,” says Jackley.

Project Stand Up is available state wide. The school safety component is live now—just in time for the upcoming school year.