How effective are school safety tiplines?

CLEVELAND-- The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating school safety tiplines used by districts in Northeast Ohio.

We looked at whether anyone uses the hotlines and what happens when someone drops a tip there. We found a statewide school safety hotline took in 125 tips last year. That number is more than double what it was two years ago.

Meantime, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District said it gets an average of 72 tips a month about students who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others.

School and law enforcement officials said there’s no routine way these kinds of tips get investigated. Sometimes they’re handled solely by local police. They might also involve social workers or even the FBI.

In Kirtland, the Florida high school shooting led a mother to speak out to the I-Team about evil messages sent months ago to middle school kids by another student. There was even a reference to the Columbine school shootings. That mother said she wonders if local authorities doing enough to take messages like that seriously and prevent violence.

The Kirtland Police Chief told us a juvenile prosecutor is reviewing the investigation into the comments. Police found no immediate threat and the student was expelled for another matter.

Meantime, the Florida school shootings led school officials in Kirtland, Solon and Cleveland to send messages to parents, reminding them the districts are committed to safety and encouraging people to call in tips about anything suspicious.

Investigators pointed out a big challenge for them in these cases is deciding if a threat is a prank, an off-hand comment or a plan of action someone intends to carry out.

Continuing coverage of the Florida school shooting here