As part of ongoing efforts to improve communication between Montgomery County Public Schools and families, the school system is preparing to launch a mobile app called “MCPS Student Strong” giving students on-the-go access to mental health and crisis resources.
Student users will have the ability to report incidents of bullying, harassment and intimidation to the Office of Student Welfare and Compliance by filing a form within the app.
Chris Cram, MCPS’ Department of Communications director, presented the app to the school board’s Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Committee during a meeting on Monday held at the board’s headquarters in Rockville. The committee consists of board members Shebra Evans (Dist. 4), Grace Rivera-Oven (Dist. 1) and Julie Yang (Dist. 3).
The presentation comes just months after MCPS published the findings of a county-wide Anti-Racist System Audit, which found that reports of race-based bullying and discrimination are “prevalent throughout MCPS.”
The app will also provide access to crisis management services, general mental health resources and information about students’ rights and responsibilities. It will include information from national crisis organizations like The Trevor Project, Be Well 365, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the new 988 suicide prevention hotline.
Cram said school board member Lynne Harris worked with students from Silver Spring’s Montgomery Blair High School to develop the app. MCPS conducted focus groups with students and parents over the summer to gather feedback before the team of students began constructing the app.
One of the main concerns from focus groups was a desire to ensure information shared within the app remains private. Cram said there will only be one place where personal information can be shared in the app, and that is if students decide to fill out a bullying or harassment report.
A box of text on the app’s home page assures users of their privacy:
“Using this tool is COMPLETELY anonymous. No personal-identifying data whatsoever will be collected through your use of this app. Only if you choose to submit a report, and enter your information, will Montgomery County Public Schools have any identifiable record.”
The communications department met with students late last week to finalize changes and has already secured preapproval from the Apple store to publish, Cram said. The app will launch in English and Spanish with additional translations available.
Cram said the app is “very near ready to be published.” He said the roll-out plan will include a variety of messaging techniques, including email and Canva notifications to students.
Committee chair Evans thanked the student developers and expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming launch.
“I’m so proud of our students. They’re always doing great things,” she said. “We look forward to seeing when the app is available and when it goes live on our website.”