Administration emphasizes anonymity of Say Something


Graphic Karmyn Shreeve

When the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System came to Algonquin in November, students became concerned that the app is not truly anonymous. However, both Northborough Police and guidance have said that it’s almost impossible for them to figure out who submitted a tip if the tipster didn’t identify themselves.

Ben Schanzer, Staff Writer

After hearing student concerns, the administration has reassured students the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System is anonymous.

Say Something is a reporting system whose mission is to give students an anonymous method to report safety or general concerns to both school officials and law enforcement.  However, since its implementation in November, many students have expressed concerns about whether the system is truly anonymous.

The administration has reassured students that the reporting system is anonymous at class meetings and through emails.   

A statement regarding the anonymity of tips, from Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), the group that manages Say Something, was sent to students in an email from Principal Dr. Sara Pragluski-Walsh on Dec. 19.  

“ALL tip submissions are truly anonymous,” the email read. “No exceptions. All tip information remains inside a closed loop, extremely secure system which uses two external gateways. The only way we (Sandy Hook Promise) can even TRY to break anonymity is with a … warrant from law enforcement. Even then, there are no assurances we could ID an IP protocol.” 

According to School Resource Officer Kevin Fruwirth, to get a warrant an affidavit, a statement containing evidence that is submitted to a judge, would have to go through the necessary legal channels and the report would have to be extremely significant for the police to try to break anonymity.

Director of Guidance Lisa Connery explained that when tips are submitted they are immediately sorted by urgency level, determining who can see them.

“They have two different categories, what they call life-threatening and non-life-threatening,” Connery said.  

According to Connery, anything deemed life-threatening is sent directly to the Northborough Police Department, with the school being alerted after the investigation. Tips deemed as non-life-threatening are forwarded to the school’s response team.  

“[The team is] Dr. Walsh, Mr. McGowan, myself, one of our school adjustment counselors, Mrs. Guterman and our school psychologist, Dr. Lipton,” Connery said. 

Despite this, many students still believe Say Something isn’t anonymous.  

In an informal poll of 143 students of all grades, conducted during lunch from Jan. 6 to Jan. 9, 113 responded that they do not think Say Something is anonymous.  

Assistant Principal Andrew McGowan said this misconception concerning anonymity may be because students often identify themselves when making a report.

“It is truly anonymous,” McGowan said. “As anonymous as the tipster makes it.”

While most of the surveyed students believe the app doesn’t attach a name to reports, many think their IP address is recorded when a tip is submitted. An IP address is an identifying number assigned to each device using the internet. While it couldn’t be independently confirmed if this occurs, McGowan said the school has no way to view an IP address.

Despite the administration’s reassurances, junior Edward Gostick believes that, if necessary, the school or police can see who submitted a report.

“I think it is mostly anonymous, but if push comes to shove, they will find out who put what on the website,” Gostick said.

If students still have concerns about anonymity, Fruwirth and Connery both emphasized that the app is just one tool among many to give students an outlet if they have a concern.

“If people aren’t comfortable using the app, just talk to someone you’re comfortable with,” Fruwirth said. “There are ways to keep somebody confidential if they so choose.”

Fruwirth said he is a good person to talk to if anyone has concerns. He can be contacted at [email protected]