State Rep. Beth Moore has responded to the controversy surrounding photos that surfaced on social media of a crowded hallway in a Paulding County high school by establishing an email hotline to let parents, students and teachers report safety issues in Georgia schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moore — a Peachtree Corners Democrat whose district also includes Johns Creek — announced the hotline Friday night on her social media accounts. She is encouraging people who have concerns about their schools to share them with her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In response to the events in Paulding County, where school administrators attempted to silence and punish a student for sharing her concerns about the lack safety in her school, I have set up a whistleblower hotline email ... where students, teachers, and parents can anonymously share their photos, videos, and testimonials,” Moore said as she announced the tip line on Facebook.
“I will give you the cover you need to get the information to the right people.”
The email was set up after news broke that the students who posted the photos of the crowded hallway at North Paulding High School had been suspended for doing so. School officials later rescinded the suspensions over the weekend after a community backlash.
North Paulding was closed Monday and Tuesday so crews could disinfect the school after six students and three teachers tested positive for COVID-19.
Moore said, in a video accompanying her Facebook announcement, that she will evaluate each tip that comes in and work on a plan on how to bring those issues to the appropriate individuals. She also pledged to protect tipsters who share information with her.
“You identity will be kept confidential,” the state representative said. “I will not do anything with the information until it has been evaluated and validated and approved by you, but I want you to know myself, Rep. Beth Moore — I represent state House District 95 — am here to be a resource for you, not only the students but also the teachers who may be concerned about their job status if they speak up.”
Over the weekend, Moore said she had already received hundreds of emails from people reporting concerns in the first 48 hours after she announced the email account had been set up.
On Monday, Moore accused officials in some school systems of not doing enough to address the COVID-19 threat in schools during a Democratic Party virtual press conference.
The legislator read a letter from a Forsyth county teacher who was concerned because they were set to have about 31 students in their classes while face masks were not being required. She also read a letter from a Bulloch County educator who raised concerns about an apparent lack of a backup plan.
Moore said she has also received emails from students who complained that efforts are not being taken to stop students who are not wearing face masks from bullying classmates who chose to wear them.
“Teachers and students across the state are experiencing unsafe conditions in their schools, but leadership hasn’t been listening, and often has been doubling down and making it worse,” she said. “Since Friday night, I’ve received hundreds of emails from teachers, students, and parents who are terrified.
“The adults in the room where decisions are made aren’t taking this virus seriously — and the people who will suffer from this are our teachers, children, and their families.”