There are more than 56 million students enrolled at elementary and secondary schools across the United States. Whether they’re enrolled at a public, private or special purpose school, all 56 million students have the right to learn in a safe and secure environment.
School districts are responsible for ensuring students are safe, secure and free of harm while they learn. Districts do this by implementing policies, codes and rules to define appropriate and inappropriate behavior. When these regulations are violated, the school or district investigates.
Most school systems continue to rely on paper forms and accordion-folder filing systems for incident tracking and investigations. However, some districts, like Union County Public Schools (UCPS), are turning to case management software to effectively manage students, teachers, incidents and investigations.
But first: if you need help deciding whether case management software is for you and how it works, download our Case Management Software Buyer's Guide.
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Schools receive complaints about everything from student misconduct to safety and security, human resources, attendance and enrolment. Case management software is a tool that allows schools to investigate these complaints in a thorough, efficient and effective way.
Student Conduct Complaints
The majority of school complaints and investigations have to do with student conduct and behavior. Schools receive complaints about:
- Academic dishonesty which includes cheating on tests, stealing answer keys, bribing other students, sharing projects and plagiarizing resources.
- Discourteous treatment which includes bullying, physical violence, stalking and intimidation tactics.
- Harassment and discrimination, including acts that violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
- Unauthorized use of property which includes stealing, defacing, damaging, destroying or misusing school equipment or property.
- Policy violations, including breaking the dress code, attendance policy, alcohol and drug policy or code of conduct.
If discourteous treatment is a problem at your school, download The Busy Teacher’s Cheat Sheet to Talking to Parents About Bullying to learn how to navigate conversations with the parents of both the bully and the bullied.
Safety & Security Complaints
Safety and security complaints are another big area of concern for schools and school districts.
For younger children attending elementary schools, complaints primarily involve transportation (bus) incidents, custody disputes and lost or missing children.
In addition, common complaints touch on after-hours emergency maintenance, employee and student relations, fire alarms, lockdowns, security incidents and miscellaneous incidents.
Tracking safety and security complaints with case management software will identify areas of improvement before real harm occurs. For example, if there are numerous incidents reported on one specific bus route, the school would benefit from taking extra steps to assess the route or driver before there is an injury (or worse).
One very important benefit of using case management software to track and investigate safety and security complaints is that it can help identify risks and hot spots early.
School districts that use case management software can find and fix issues much quicker than their counterparts, effectively reducing the number of compliance issues and legal battles they face.
Human Resources Complaints
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the public and private school systems were to employ 3.7 million full-time equivalent K-12 teachers for the 2018 fall semester. In addition, there are as many non-teaching staff members, such as coaches, counselors or cleaners, as there are teachers in American public schools.
School districts are responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for everyone at the school. This includes students, teachers and non-teaching staff. Case management software can help schools address complaints or incidents related to staff members.
These types of complaints typically involve:
- Discourteous treatment
- Discrimination or Title IX violations
- Interpersonal disputes
- Leaves of absence
- Off-duty criminal conduct
- On-duty criminal conduct
- Policy violations
- Preferential treatment
- Unauthorized use of property
With a case management software, school districts can more efficiently receive, investigate and address HR complaints. Because these incidents can be administrative or criminal, it’s crucial that schools have an effective tool to track incidents and document investigations.
Alternatively, download our free Investigation Report Template for Educational Institutions for an easy way to document your school investigations.
Attendance & Enrollment Issues
Case management software can also be used to track, monitor and investigate attendance and enrollment issues.
Studies show that attendance rates in U.S. schools are upwards of 90 per cent. However, these studies fail to pinpoint the chronically absent.
Absenteeism and punctuality problems are two common attendance-related issues that can be monitored using case management software. The software will allow you to catch and resolve issues early and before they escalate.
School districts benefit from using case management software to investigate complaints relating to the falsification of attendance records and school records, policy violations, residencies and cross-boundary requests.
Case management software helps schools conduct higher quality investigations that are more likely to be consistent, confidential and compliant with relevant laws and statutes.
School administrators who use case management software appreciate the ability to identify and prevent future issues and are surprised to learn how much time, money and effort this saves.
Book a demo to learn about all of the benefits and features of i-Sight's case management software.
1. It Promotes Quality, Consistency and Accountability
Implementing case management software to guide your investigation processes will significantly reduce the amount of lost or destroyed documentation, and will ensure investigations are carried out consistently. High quality, consistency and accountability in investigations are invaluable.
For example, imagine there was a physical fight between two boys at school. The nurse tending to the injuries might have key information. The counselor may know the history between the two who fought. The school’s secretary might have knowledge about the boys' attendance and whereabouts on the day of the incident.
That’s a lot of information from a lot of individuals that needs to be documented, analyzed, cross-referenced and investigated. Case management software can make sure that quality information is compiled in a comprehensive, consistent and organized way, making it easier to carry out the next steps.
2. It Helps You Comply with Title IX and Other Laws
All incident responses, investigations and reporting must comply with local, state, federal and sectoral laws that protect human and civil rights. Case management software helps you meet these requirements.
i-Sight follows a set of procedures to ensure compliance with various acts including:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB)
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
For Title IX investigations (those involving sexual harassment or discrimination), case management software can ensure you not only have a robust mechanism for receiving complaints but that they're addressed in the mandated timeframe, then tracked and documented properly with a complete investigation record.
3. It Keeps Data Secure Through Access Roles
Teams can collaborate using case management software without compromising the confidentiality of sensitive case information. The software allows you to create and assign unique roles that can limit the amount (and type) of information the user can view or edit.
Role-defined access allows colleagues and supervisors to collaborate on cases in real-time and keep investigations progressing. A complete audit trail shows who did what and when, providing a detailed history of case activity.
i-Sight has a reputation for providing stringent data protection. When your files are hosted on i-Sight's secure servers, they are protected from unauthorized deletion, copying, alteration, theft, corruption and curious co-workers.
4. It Identifies Risks Early, Preventing Future Issues
The best case management software tools provide the ability to link related cases, flag at-risk students and identify "problem" individuals. These features contribute to a more detailed overview of complaints and investigations, including the ability to search by school, person, complaint type or other criteria.
Having access to these features means that schools and districts can identify and address areas of risk before it's too late and the problem is irreparable.
5. You Save Time, Money and Energy
Schools that use case management software in their processes see a significant reduction in the amount of time, money and energy it takes to track incidents and carry out a full investigation.
And, unlike implementing other new tools, case management software is easy to incorporate in your current processes. The time, money and energy it takes to understand the tool is minimal. The software is intuitive and user-friendly.
Another impressive feat with case management software is the ability to create reports with zero effort. One click gathers data from a case, packaging and formatting it into an investigation report with complete documentation. Compare the press of a single button to the days (or even weeks) it typically takes to write an investigation report.
For UCPS specifically, case management software has been a big time-saver. The tool provides quick access to detailed case information that was simply not available previously.
UCPS is the sixth largest public school system in North Carolina, overseeing 53 elementary, middle, high and special purpose schools. In total, UCPS serves more than 40,000 students and has 5000 staff members.
Over time, UCPS realized that a paper form with just 14 questions wasn’t enough to conduct proper investigations into employee policy violations and sexual harassment claims. They needed to collect more information. They needed to store cases digitally, so they could be linked, cross-referenced and only accessed by the right people.
UCPS is now using effective case management software that meets the needs of a school system. The principals and assistant principals from all 53 UCPS schools can now make reports, track trends and identify problem areas.
The software has tight privacy controls, intuitive and easy-to-use features, the ability to upload files and templates, a notification system and responsive support.
Bottom Line: Schools Need Investigation Software
There is no room for carelessness when it comes to the safety and security of staff and students. Students have the right to be educated in a safe space and teachers have the right to work in one too. It's the school's responsibility to provide this safe space.
Providing a safe space can be difficult in an environment where fire alarms, lockdowns, absences and harassment or discrimination are ever-present. Incidents happen on and off school grounds and may involve teachers, students or both.
With so much going on at once, using incident tracking and investigation software can keep everything organized and help to maintain a safe space for everyone.
Download our free eBook to learn more about how case management software can help keep your school safe.