Buncombe County Schools launch program aimed at protecting children with special needs

Photo credit: WLOS staff

See original article: News 13 WLOS

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Buncombe County Schools on Tuesday rolled out a safety program to better inform teachers, school resource officers and administrators with details on students who may need special care and handling during a crisis or behavioral situation at school.


With Superintendent Tony Baldwin present, staff explained Vitals, a cell phone app that is free for families to sign up and upload their child’s information.

Schools will then have subscribers who will have the Vitals app on their phones and will able to immediately view a given student’s special needs or medications if a situation arises where they need help, or to diffuse a situation at school.

“Austin had seizures or has seizures,” said Janet Price-Ferrell, whose developmentally disabled son graduated from T.C. Roberson, one of the pilot program schools. “When they walk into his space, they would have known this individual has seizures and what meds he is on.”

With their parents’ consent, students with special needs will have a small device that interacts using a bluetooth connection to the phone app.

As an administrator with the app walks into a room, the phone will sound and bring up the student’s detailed profile to help an SRO or teacher better assess and manage a student who might be in crisis.

“Buncombe County Schools, with support from the Buncombe Foundation, will be the first school district in the country piloting this app and this collaboration,” foundation executive director Lisa Adkins said.