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Anonymous tip line starts soon

An anonymous tip program will be launched by the Depew Union Free School District, possibly before the Thanksgiving recess.

A presentation of the Comprehensive Anonymous Tip System, or CATS, was given at Thursday's Board of Education meeting by Detective Steven L. Lehman of the Depew Police Department and Depew High School Principal Carol Townsend.

Modeled after a system initiated by the Lancaster School District last spring, CATS offers a "second layer of security" for students, parents and the community at large, Townsend said.

It allows people to have anonymity in reporting problems like bullying and substance abuse to school authorities.

Forms will be available on the district's Web site,, for people to fill out or they can call 686-0456 -- a number that is not yet in operation. Designated administrators at the district's schools will receive reports and check the phone line daily. All reports will be investigated, officials said.

The system will not be operational on weekends, holidays or when school is in recess. Lehman noted that anything requiring immediate attention should be reported to 911.

There is no additional cost to the school district for CATS. Next week, letters will be mailed to parents explaining the program and students will learn about it in homeroom. Townsend said she hopes CATS will be implemented within the next two to three weeks.

"We recognize that there may be individuals who are reluctant or fearful to give us information so this gives us another layer of security," said Townsend.

In other business, the board:

* Voted, 5-2, to renew a policy on public participation at board meetings. Adopted in 1996, it includes a provision that anyone wanting to comment on a non-agenda item notify the district clerk by 1 p.m. of the day preceding the meeting. Board members Diane Benczkowski and Barbara Staebell voted no. Both said they were against placing limitations on public participation at board meetings.

* Voted, 5-2, to appoint Lisa Ciavarella as school nurse effective next Tuesday. Benczkowski voted no because she "objected to the interview process." Staebell, who also voted no, declined to comment because it is "a personnel issue."

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