AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas School for the Deaf is a big school with more than 40 buildings, and Superintendent Claire Bugen said it's a lot to protest in an emergency situation.
Their workers are now using the Smart Button instant panic button mobile app to communicate with medics and law enforcement in an easier way.
"We sit right in the middle of urban Downtown Austin and there are things that happened along South Congress and our community," said Bugen. "It will allow us to broadcast that communication with our administrative group."
When teachers press the Smart Button for three seconds, it connects them to officials immediately. It cuts down response times compared to traditional 911 methods during a crisis situation. Employees can have a real-time chat with officials, as well.
The Texas House passed the school safety bill, or Senate Bill 11, after the 2018 Santa Fe High School shootings. It pushes schools to make thorough crisis plans, like this one.
With the School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019, one purpose is to encourage school districts to make safety and security improvements. Texas School for the Deaf said that many districts have since made adjustments to protocols and the Smart Button panic button app is a tool that provides a helpful solution to this initiative.
"Everything's about communication and increasing communications for school nationwide and creating safer school climates," said Gregory Bender, Anonymous Alerts and Smart Button founder and CEO. "In a crisis, instant communication is most important and paramount for school safety both for students and staff."
Anonymous Alerts is another app used by the students. It lets them file reports, like bullying, depression, or weapons on campus, while hiding their identities. Bender said he has more than 8,000 clients nationwide. Bugen feels like others should get on board too.
"You have to harden your campus. You have to give students the opportunity to report anonymously if they see something," said Bugen. "For being a school with 100% special ed population and a community of students with unique language needs with a lot of language deprivation, this app has allowed us to customize the language."
Bugen said the training recently finished for employees.
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