Gaggle Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Helping Districts Protect Students
School safety company has saved over 1,500 students from carrying out the act of suicide since 2016; over 700 of those in the 2018-19 school year
Charlotte Andrist, Nickel Communications PR
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (June 20, 2019) – Gaggle, the leader in helping K-12 districts manage student safety on school-provided technology, is marking two decades of partnering with schools to protect students, avoid tragedies and save lives. Over the past 20 years, Gaggle has scanned more than 13 billion pieces of student content, flagging over 151 million items for review by its team of safety experts who look for signs of self-harm, depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, cyberbullying and credible threats of violence against others. The result is over 1,500 lives saved since 2016.
In 1999, Gaggle founder and CEO Jeff Patterson was seeking a solution to manage student safety issues, including classroom misbehavior, physical bullying, fighting and drugs at schools across the nation. He began the company as a student email provider, but as trends in harmful student behavior like self-harm, violence towards others, cyberbullying, and nudity and sexual content grew exponentially, he expanded the offering to include products that help schools create safe learning environments. Over the next 20 years, Patterson built a company based on three breakthrough ideas: prevent tragedies with real-time content analysis; proactively identify and support students who are personally struggling; and create a safer school environment by building a platform for improved digital citizenship.
Today, the Gaggle solution analyzes and reviews the use of online collaboration platforms, such as Google’s G Suite for Education, Microsoft Office 365 and the Canvas learning management system, for nearly 5 million students across the United States.
“With the rapid adoption of technology in the classroom over the past 20 years, the continued evolution of Gaggle was necessary,” said Patterson. “Many K-12 leaders are surprised to learn how many students are acting in ways that pose an immediate threat to themselves or others — and leaving evidence of this behavior in their online activity through school-issued devices and emails. Often, these students put up a front and appear fine at school, but they are revealing harmful behaviors through the messages they send, the online documents they create and the images they share on school-provided technology. “Since 1999, Gaggle has helped more than 1,400 districts avoid tragedies and save lives while providing a balance between student privacy and safety.”
It is that intricate balance between student safety and student privacy that has districts lining up to use Gaggle year after year. In fact, 92 percent of districts renew subscription to Gaggle’s student safety solution annually.
“Experiencing a school shooting or student suicide is every school leader’s worst nightmare. In the first six months of this school year, Gaggle has alerted us to 148 threats of violence among our 14,100 students as well as five students planning self-harm,” said Michael S. Kuhrt, superintendent of schools for Wichita Falls Independent School District in Texas. “We’re grateful that we were tipped off to these threats and could act immediately to prevent a tragedy.”
In a 2019 report on school safety, Gaggle revealed that in the first six months of the 2018-19 academic year, it observed more than 56,000 identified safety issues. Of these, more than 5,100 incidents were deemed serious enough to warrant immediate action by school officials to keep students safe. In fact, of the more than 2,400 instances that Gaggle identified as possible critical situations regarding suicide or self-harm, more than 600 were later revealed to be serious threats in which school officials were able to intervene in time and immediately save lives.
“In a world where students are comfortable using technology the way they want, we must be protective and help safeguard them,” says Christina Iremonger, chief digital officer for Vancouver Public Schools in Washington, which has invested in the Gaggle platform for its 37 schools and nearly 24,000 students. “A service like Gaggle is really important to help us do that because we can’t do it on our own. We need that extra far-reaching support.”
“K-12 leaders face an enormous challenge keeping students safe. If they have visibility into students’ online classwork activity on school-provided technology, they can see the early warning signs and take appropriate action to protect students from harming themselves or others,” said Patterson. “Although education technology continues to evolve, our mission remains the same: Ensuring the safety and well-being of students by leveraging people and technology so teachers can focus on the education of our youth.”
Since 1999, Gaggle has been the leader in helping K-12 districts manage student safety on school-provided technology. Using a robust combination of both artificial intelligence and trained safety experts, the safety solution proactively assists districts 24/7/365 in the prevention of student suicide, bullying, inappropriate behaviors, school violence, and other harmful situations. Most importantly, Gaggle continues to help hundreds of districts avoid tragedies and save lives, while also protecting their liability. In the 2018-19 academic year, Gaggle has helped districts save the lives of more than 700 students who were planning or actually attempting suicide. For more information, visit www.gaggle.net and follow Gaggle on Twitter at @Gaggle_K12.
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