Online Safety for Students

Williamson County Schools (WCS) is expanding its efforts to protect students’ safety online by using a product named Gaggle. Gaggle will monitor WCS student accounts for inappropriate or concerning words and images used in G Suite for Education programs within the district. This includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive and other programs using myplace.wcs.edu accounts provided to students.

A series of questions and answers regarding Gaggle and its use in WCS is found below:

No. Gaggle does not scan any devices. Gaggle scans student WCS student accounts to include Google Drives, WCS student email, and WCS student calendars. However, Gaggle will scan WCS student accounts wherever they are located.

Gaggle scans WCS student Google accounts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

No. Gaggle does not monitor a student’s internet usage. However, if any inappropriate image or text is downloaded from the internet and placed in the WCS student account, Gaggle will recognize that content.

No. Students could have access to their WCS student accounts through a smartphone, etc. Gaggle will scan the WCS student account no matter where it is located.

Violation

These items typically include situations where a student used minor profanity, insulting language or attempted to save or send provocative or inappropriate (but not pornographic) images. These are items that would typically result in a student warning. Administrators are alerted of these findings. High school students receive a message directly from Gaggle for their first and second violation and school administrators are included on any violation thereafter.

Questionable Content (QCON)

These are items that would typically give cause for concern and need to be brought to the attention of a school administrator but are not believed to reveal an immediate threat to a student. Email and/or text notifications are sent to the appropriate school and/or district personnel. Items in this category can include, but are not limited to: cyberbullying; pornography; graphic, violent, or sexual stories; references to suicide or self-harm that do not include specific plans or a time-frame; past drug use; or references to potential physical altercations that do not mention specific plans or a time frame.

Possible Student Situations (PSS)

These are items that reveal an immediate threat to the student, including but not limited to: violence, suicide, self-harm, pornography, rape or harmful family situations. Detected items in this category result in direct personal notification by telephone to the appropriate school and/or district personnel.

A web filter is software designed to restrict or control the online content that a user is allowed to access. The intention is to keep someone or something out of an unhealthy area. Our goal is to be proactive and provide early warning detection of harmful situations. Here’s a blog post that explains more of the differences between a web filter and Gaggle Safety Management.

WCS is required by federal law (Children’s Internet Protection Act) to protect children from accessing obscene or harmful content over the Internet.