A parent's mission to make their child's school safer has grown into a safety alert system that's grabbing the attention of school districts across the country.
The MySafeSchool app is a real-time reporting system that keeps messages between students and staff confidential. It can also be used as a communication tool between staff at one school to better assist a current need or threat.
Orange Park High School automotive technology teacher Jason Wager said he was motivated to keep schools safer after the Parkland School shooting. Wager told Action News Jax he watched the news for updates from a hospital room; his daughter was born the day before.
"There was a lot of fear of where school safety is going now. Are we safe at school," Wager said.
Motivated to keep his children, students and fellow coworkers safe, he thought of an idea for a reporting app.
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"There's a major breakdown of communication in school, and that's something I identified right away," Wager said.
Wager teamed up with four parents who also have experience with the school district. Sherman Smith is currently a welding instructor at Orange Park High School. Mike Elia is a former administrator with the Clay County School District, and Hank Barnett has a background in technology to help create the app.
"It gives comfort, it gives parents relief," Smith said, "because not knowing is a painful place to be, especially when your children are involved."
These four fathers said they wanted to create a communication tool easily accessible to students. A smartphone app became an obvious choice.
They said each student, staff member or parent would be required to register to use the app. The company would then work with the school district to verify each individual.
Through the app, it offers four ways to make a report: fire, help, fight, or threat. When a report is made, they said it is kept confidential rather than anonymous. They said it allows the staff to better address any concern or find the employee who can better help the student.
"To be able to instantaneously notify in that community that needs to know that communication I think is vital to school safety," Barnett said.
"The app is ready to be placed in any school in the state, the country, internationally," Elia said. "The app is ready to go. We have the student portion. We have the teacher portion. We have the admin portion of the school, and where the district level can monitor the whole thing."
Elia said they are in contact with school districts from Alabama to Florida and have the goal to make it available to every school in the country. Find more here.
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