Roughly a year into the implementation of a new reporting tool providing students a way to discreetly report bullying online, Union R-XI’s Director of HR and Learning Dr. Justin Tarte said there have been only a handful of reports.

The online reporting tool was created in response to House Bill 1583, which modified the requirements for school anti-bullying policies and allows students to discreetly report incidents and bullying.

Tarte said 14 reports have been filed since the program launched. He said that’s good news, and reflects the district’s students and staff.

“One of the neat things about our district is that we have a very caring staff. Whether it’s teachers, custodians, nurses, up and down the line, you have very conscientious individuals who want to make a safe environment for kids,” Tarte said. “On top of that we have a great group of kids who do a great job of being respectful to each other.”

The link to the online bullying form can be found on the district website. Once a person clicks the quick link online, a Google form opens to allow them to elaborate on the incident.

They can be submitted anonymously, but adding a name makes the report easier to investigate, the form notes. The district then has two days to conduct an investigation and 10 days to come up with a determination as a result of that investigation.

Tarte said the incidents aren’t always bullying. Any incident can be reported, That the minute it is, guidance counselors and administrators are emailed with information regarding the post, he added.

“I think one of the neat things about this tool is that it’s a way for people to report any sort of instance they think should be brought to the administration’s attention,” Tarte said. “They can do it anonymously and they can do it with that protection.”

“Once something is reported if it needs to be escalated, our administrators take the necessary steps to make sure our kids and staff members are taken care of,” Tarte said.

The online form is published during the first few days of school. Tarte said the form is in the student handbook, and the high school even has a video shown to students.

Because every student third grade and above have their own Chromebook, reporting is much easier for students, Tarte said. In the past, a student might have had to find time to go to the library to report the bullying, leading to fewer reports.

He said he hopes the ease of access is helping more students feel like they can speak up, but also believes the small amount of reports in the past year is a reflection of the district’s community.

“We don’t hear a lot because — knock on wood — we don’t have a lot of those issues, which is indicative of the great staff and student body we have,” Tarte said.