Texas spends millions on unproven school safety tool few use

Talia Richman, Lauren McGaughy and Meghan Mangrum:

The Dallas Morning News obtained emails and data about iWatchTexas after submitting numerous public records requests. The News interviewed several school officials for this article after researching which anonymous reporting tools are being used by 20 districts across the state, including in Harris County and 15 of the largest systems in North Texas. None promoted iWatchTexas as the primary method for reporting suspicious activity.

The News also reviewed research on anonymous reporting systems and spoke with officials who promoted different programs.

Roughly 300 Texas school districts use STOPit, according to company officials. It is an anonymous reporting tool that leaders in several districts say works better in a campus setting and has already yielded more results.

In the past five years, STOPit has fielded 40,000 tips in Texas, including one last month in Uvalde. Dallas and a dozen other districts use a system created after the Sandy Hook shooting that also brought in thousands of tips in recent years.