Rep. Beth Moore (D-Peachtree Corners) of the Georgia House of Representatives tweeted on August 7 that she has established a whistleblower email “for Georgia students, teachers, & admins to share photos, videos & testimonials of unsafe conditions at school.”
Moore created the email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, because “she was so incensed by the suspension of a Paulding County high school student this week after she shared photos of crowded hallways,” according to a WSB-TV article. The photo, which has widely circulated online, shows students in a packed hallway at North Paulding High School (NPHS). Fifteen-year-old Hannah Watters, the student who took the photo, again made headlines when she was suspended after the photo took off. On the day Watters was suspended, “an announcement was made over the intercom at NPHS in which students were warned of ‘consequences’ should they distribute photos or videos that negatively impact the school’s reputation,” according to an ABC News article. Her suspension has since been reversed, but Watters told CBS Atlanta on August 10 that she has been receiving threats online for the photo she took. “I know I’m doing the right thing and it’s not going to stop me from continuing doing it. But it is concerning, especially since it’s a lot of the people I go to school with, people I’ve known for years now, that are threatening me,” said Watters.
With the new whistleblower email, Moore “wanted a way for people to blow the whistle without fear of retribution,” according to WSB-TV. In her tweet, Moore promises: “I’ll give you the anonymous cover you need if you’ve been threatened w/ “consequences.” #gapol #paulding” She told WSB-TV that in the 24 hours after the email account was created, numerous complaints rolled in from different sources.
Whistleblower advocates warn that anyone using a “hotline” such as email account, especially state or local employees, should seek legal counsel before submitting any information in this manner or have an attorney provide the information on their behalf to maintain their anonymity.