Giving Students a Safe Way to Ask for Help

In order to better prepare their students for the real world, Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) started offering its students email capabilities. But with 45,000 students across 55 neighborhood elementary schools, 16 secondary schools, two alternative schools, and 16 charter schools, the district was concerned with how they would be able to monitor any inappropriate activity.

To make sure students were using the service in a safe and professional manner, the district implemented Gaggle beginning in the 2015–16 school year. “We needed a service like Gaggle because monitoring 45,000 new accounts would quickly become a full-time job for multiple staff members,” said Eric Hileman, the district’s executive director of Information Technology. “There’s no way we could do that.”

One thing they didn’t expect? Students using the system to purposefully alert adults of possible situations. One particular student who feared retaliation if they reported a situation directly decided instead to write something inappropriate in a Google doc, knowing that the platform would catch it. Gaggle sent an alert to the school’s principal, who investigated immediately. “She didn’t want to come straight out and call out the behavior, so she let the system catch it,” said Hileman. “It worked perfectly, and no one was any wiser. That’s just smart.”

Gaggle has proven its worth on numerous occasions, alerting the district to student safety concerns as well as issues involving parental drug abuse and sexual abuse. “Gaggle gives our principals and counselors levels of insight that they wouldn’t normally have,” said Hileman, “and evidence to support some of their gut feelings.” Read the full case study to learn more about how OKCPS keeps its students safe with Gaggle.