OCSD Implements Gaggle Safety Management System

OTTUMWA— As part of the Ottumwa High School 1:1 Initiative, the district has purchased Gaggle Safety Management system to filter the district’s school-issued email and drive accounts for students.


In 2000, Congress enacted the Children’s Internet Safety Act (CIPA) to address concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet. Schools are required to monitor online activities of minors, and must educate minors about appropriate online behavior. As Ottumwa Schools expands access through 1:1 technology, email, and Google drive accounts, it became apparent that simply filtering the Internet was not enough.


With Gaggle, the safety and well-being of our students will increase while on the Internet. This solution alerts the district of students who are struggling with issues such as self-harm, substance abuse, cyberbullying, unhealthy relationships, and other credible threats. Gaggle scans student Google accounts (Gmail and Google Drive) for harmful material and alerts building administrators and/or emergency services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


“Our students’ safety is our number one concern,” said Tyler Courtney, the district’s Technology Director. “We must put solutions in place to further protect them from harm. We currently use web-filtering projects to protect students from harmful material while on the Internet.” The district implemented the system this summer after board approval.


Gaggle combines technology with expert Safety Representatives who review content 24/7 to ensure students are safe. Gaggle identifies inappropriate words and images in Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and more. Trained professionals then apply consistent, school- or district-approved policies for positive intervention, alerting school officials if there is an imminent threat to a student.


Using a response rubric, Gaggle determines the nature and severity of the content in question. The Safety Management Team determines where the content falls on the rubric and takes appropriate action. For questionable content, an email notification is sent to district administration. Possible student situations result in direct personal notification by telephone to school/district contacts. Other features that may be utilized in the future include email notifications to students for simple violations.


“I am excited that the district has partnered with Gaggle to assist us in keeping our students safe,” said Aaron Ruff, associate principal at Evans Middle School. “It is another level of protection that the district is providing its students, staff and families on all emails, websites, and documents. Gaggle also provides the district the opportunity to teach our students to be responsible digital citizens.”