MCPS to debut new mobile app ‘Student Strong’
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” that gives 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 submitting a form within the application.
Chris Cram, MCPS Department of Communications Director, presented the application to the school board’s Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Committee during a meeting held Monday at the board’s headquarters in Rockville. The committee consists of Councilors Shebra Evans (Dist. 4), Grace Rivera-Oven (Dist. 1) and Julie Yang (Dist. 3).
The presentation comes just months after MCPS released the findings of a countywide anti-racism 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 student rights and responsibilities. This will include information from national crisis organizations such as 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 held focus groups with students and parents over the summer to gather feedback before the team of students began building the app.
One of the main concerns of focus groups was a desire to ensure that 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 text box on the app’s home page assures users of their privacy:
“Using this tool is COMPLETELY anonymous. No personally-identifying data whatsoever will be collected through your use of this application,” Cram said. “Only if you choose to file 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 obtained prior approval 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 close to being ready to go live.” He said the rollout 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 for the upcoming launch.
“I am so proud of our students. They always do good things,” she said. “We look forward to seeing when the app is available and when it will be available on our website.”