WFISD credits software for helping students at risk of harming themselves

WFISD Security Application

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - The Wichita Falls ISD is giving credit to a software program or helping them protect students beyond the classroom.

The software program is called Gaggle and it has been installed on all the district’s laptops.

Eugene Puente went to high school during a time when laptops were just beginning to be handed out to students.

His high school in the Dallas area had gaggle the software that helps administrators keep an eye on what kids are using their school laptops for.

Back then his school only used Gaggle for email.

“It would filter out any kind of explicit messages, images, any of that sort of stuff,” Puente said, “Now looking back on it though, it was probably a good thing for students, it helps kind of monitor things and keep an eye on them.

Now, 7 years later, Gaggle is used to monitor searches, and even what is written in Word documents.

WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said, “What they’re putting into the Chromebook it [Gaggle] reads it.”

Wichita Falls ISD has given out over 7,000 Chromebooks to students.

Kuhrt said the main thing that Gaggle has done is opening their eyes to kids in need of counseling “In the last year and a half that we've been using it we think we've had four students with severe depression, severe issues, and thought about self-harm. We've intervened, we've gone as far as to have a 2:00 am visit to somebody's house because we were concerned that they might harm themselves,” Kuhrt said.

Kuhrt said gaggle is even able to flag messages that students have had with people who do not attend school with them.

“We've caught a couple of inappropriate relationships that students are having with adults outside of the district,” Kuhrt said.

To those who feel that Gaggle is an invasion of student’s privacy, Kuhrt has this to say, “We’re required by law to keep children safe, and I don’t think parents with children involved in self-harm or other things would mind us letting them know that.”

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