“The safeguard of the system is to maintain that anonymity and maintain that confidentiality,” Joe Caruso, executive director of the district’s community engagement department, said. “This will not only comply with CCSD policy and provide employees the opportunity to report ethics and compliance concerns, but also provide the data needed to correct the issues that may be occurring.”
The system is beginning to see more use among school districts in the US, such as Atlanta Public Schools district, where it was implemented in 2005. It’s also been utilized by small businesses seeking to weed out corruption issues, such as the MGM.
“Our neighbors down the street MGM resorts international have used this system since 2004,” Caruso said. “So in total, there are 41 school districts across the country that are currently using EthicsPoint, both the hotline and the online system.”
The system will allow teachers to report incidents 24/7 via CCSD’s website or by telephone. Those reporting issues will be given log-in information that is known only to them, which allows them to answer any potential questions about their report without having to jeopardize their anonymity. These reports will be monitored by Navex, an ethics reporting tech company.
“I think that it’s a good idea to be able to report anything you find unusual or needs to be addressed,” English teacher Virginia Guillemette said. “Whenever there’s an incentive to do something unethical you’re always gonna have a percentage of people who are going to take advantage of that, and you have to prepare for that so you have to have a system in place that allows people to report what they see without fear of retaliation.”
Examples of misconduct that would be reported include misuse of funds and abuse or harassment of employees.
“It helps that this program uses a third party company,” Engineering teacher Rizalto Nicolas said. “I feel this program could help really get the truth out there as I see inter-company investigations as very vulnerable to corruption, which hopefully this program will fight.”
Any log-ins to the website by staff will not generate any internal connection with IP addresses. This means that it will be impossible to track staff who report issues down. The purpose of this anonymity is to ensure that staff members feel comfortable reporting misconduct without fear of repercussions. In cases in which potential law violations are brought up, law enforcement may be notified.
“I think in theory anonymous reporting is a good concept,” Lutz said. “If I did work at a school where I had trouble with a fellow employee or administrator and wasn’t comfortable with dealing with it face to face, I think it would be good to have an anonymous system I could report to.”
Certain school board members brought up concerns about the EthicsPoint program during the meeting mostly involving the possibility of false allegations.
“What do we say to people who make a statement to get someone in trouble and it’s not true,” Linda Young, Trustee Board Member said. “It can be used positively and in another way too, though, I think its a step in the right direction.”