As a 1:1 district, Weld County School District RE-1 needed a way to monitor its students’ email and document-sharing activity. Making that happen would require a technology platform much more robust and capable than what it was already using.
“We had this incredible blind spot; we couldn’t see what was in our students’ Google Drive folders or what they were doing on email and with other Google apps,” said Dr. Teresa M. Hernandez, Chief Intervention & Safety Officer. The situation escalated when the district’s Healthy Kids Colorado survey data was returned for the 2017-18 school year.
“Some of the data really didn’t add up because our kids were reporting so much to the survey in terms of selfharm, bullying, and other issues,” Dr. Hernandez recalled. That triggered the district to implement the Gaggle student safety management platform. Paired with a web filtering program, the solution handles 24/7/365 monitoring of students’ online activity.
The payoff came quickly when a group of 10-year-old girls using Google Docs as a chat platform casually mentioned that a 14-year-old boy had asked one of them for nude photos. “That’s gross,” she shared with her friends. “Can you help me? How do I tell him no? I just don’t want to see him again.”
According to Dr. Hernandez, Gaggle flagged the conversation within minutes and brought it to the attention of district administrators. “That’s the power of Gaggle,” she said. “Sexting for minors is against the law in Colorado. Being able to intervene, alert parents, and get youngsters the support they need is invaluable.”
In some situations, those early alerts have helped districts like Weld County SD save lives. When a student wrote in a Google document “How to kill myself,” from home at 9 p.m. one evening, for example, the student safety platform instantly flagged the content and alerted administrators (depending on the situation, districts can instruct Gaggle’s safety experts to skip that step and call the police directly).
“We sent law enforcement out to do a well-child check,” said Dr. Hernandez. When police were told that the child had been asleep in bed for hours, they were able to show that the youngster’s search history painted a different picture. The situation was successfully resolved, and the child is healthy and safe. “That’s just one example of how Gaggle is our ‘silent’ partner,” she continued, “who helps us all sleep better at night.”
As a small district with six schools that have about 2,000 students, Weld County SD’s staff members are maxed out, often wearing multiple hats. “By stepping in to ensure that students are using Google to send emails, share documents, and collaborate in Hangouts in a safe and responsible manner, Gaggle has become a trusted, reliable team member.
“The Gaggle team backfills my capacity with Johnnyon-the-spot professionals who quickly evaluate and address issues from the educational perspective,” said Dr. Hernandez. “Any school that has students on devices needs a team of people looking at what kids are doing in a world where their very futures and lives could come down to a matter of minutes.”