SAGINAW – Attorney General Bill Schuette today joined Saginaw Superintendent Nathaniel McClain, Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy Principal Priscilla Arocha-Roby, Michigan State Police Tri-City Post Commander David Simon and students at the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy to promote the Michigan OK2SAY program.
OK2SAY is a student safety initiative available to Michigan students in grades K-12 and enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. During the 2014-15 school year, the first year of OK2SAY, more than 1,400 tips were submitted by students across the State of Michigan. Most tips were related to bullying, cyber bullying and suicide, other tips included reporting drug use, weapon possession or assault.
“One year into the OK2SAY program and we are already making a difference,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette. “I think everyone agrees that saving one student’s life makes this program a success and worthy of our continued commitment to our students.”
“No child should ever come to school feeling unsafe,” said SASA Principal Priscilla Arocha-Roby “I was happy to have the Attorney General and the OK2SAY program visit our school to help continue our commitment to a bully-free environment.”
OK2SAY is operated through a partnership between the Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, state agencies, schools, parents, law enforcement, and community leaders.
OK2SAY discourages the persistent culture of silence among students who fear reporting threatening behavior is intrusive and could lead to retaliation or result in stigmatization for the tipster. According to the U.S. Secret Service, for 81% of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker had knowledge of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it.
Key features of OK2SAY include:
- Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person against whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. However, to address any false reports to the program, prosecutors do have authority to seek a court order to review records when investigating false reports.
- Comprehensive Technology: OK2SAY is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The program accepts tips by phone, text message, email, mobile application, and website form, accessible at mi.gov/ok2say. Photos, videos and links to additional information are encouraged.
- Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY operators at the Michigan State Police address the immediate need and, as necessary, forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
- Accountability & Complete Disposition: To ensure tips are acted upon, agencies receiving tips are required to submit outcome reports to the Department of Attorney General. An annual report on the program’s impact will detail the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year. The 2014 report is now available on the Attorney General’s website.
OK2SAY has logged tips on a variety of issues involving student safety, including: weapons possession, bullying, substance abuse, and suicide threats. Schuette noted that other states have had successes with similar programs.
How to Submit a Tip
Students, teachers, parents, school officials, friends and neighbors can all submit tips, if they are aware of a threat in school. Tips can be submitted though the following ways:
Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY) *
(Information & Photo Courtesy of Bill Schuette’s office)