Longview ISD soon will implement a software system aimed to improve safety and the mental health of middle and high school students, officials said.

During its Nov. 8 meeting, trustees approved $60,000 for a student safety software system called Gaggle that will be in use beginning Dec. 9.

The software is designed to protect students on and off campus. It serves to ensure a student’s well-being by informing administrators of any incidents that show signs of cyberbullying, self-harm, threats or any inappropriate behavior taking place on district-issued devices and student email accounts.

“Our vision is that all schools are safe and all students get the mental and emotional help they need,” according to Gaggle’s website.

Reported cases that Gaggle can identify vary from incidents of suicide or harm, drug or alcohol use, violence toward others, inappropriate sexual content, child pornography, bullying, cyberbullying and harassment.

Dennis Williams, assistant superintendent of administrative and pupil services, said the program is an opportunity to address mental health issues students may be facing.

“We are always motivated to make decisions that will improve our student’s safety and well-being,” he said. “Mental health issues are on the rise, not just in our school district but everywhere, and we need to be proactive and find ways to keep up with it.”

The Gaggle system works with the help of an administrative team that is assigned to receive alerts, assisting school districts with prevention of student suicide, inappropriate behaviors, school violence and other harmful situations.

Williams said the program has three levels of alerts — low, medium and high — for school administrators to monitor on district-issued accounts, such as a student’s Google Drive activity.

“An example of a low-level alert would be a student or staffer cursing,” Williams said. “A second level alert would be questionable content, and a third level alert would be self harm and other violent content.”

The program reviews email messages, subject lines, attachments, images, links to websites and shared items from Google Drive.

Additional features of the program include blocking inappropriate communication, removing pornographic images and customizing notifications based on the district’s preferences. Gaggle also has an incident interface that allows emergency contacts the ability to receive, manage and resolve student incidents.

When a student’s search is flagged, it is automatically reviewed by the Gaggle safety team, which will determine the next steps. If the incident is a threat to the safety of the student, the child’s emergency contact will be notified by phone.

Williams said Gaggle will serve as an extra set of eyes, ears and hands for Longview ISD and maximize student safety.

The funding for the software will come from the administrative and pupil services budget.

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