Michigan Schools Boost Surveillance Tech to Monitor Students in Person and Online

In the name of safety, Michigan schools are using digital tools to flag behaviors deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
Teenage Boy Using Laptop in Bedroom
Photo: pvproductions/Freepik

(The Center Square) – After a shooter killed four students at Oxford Community Schools in November 2021, Michigan schools are activating surveillance software and boosting security.

OCS spent $145,122 on a three-year license to the software Gaggle, which filters data on student devices and stored in the cloud to find suicidal, violent, and explicit content. The software notifies the school and can provide virtual therapy services monitored by a certified counselor or social worker for the 2021-2024 school years.

OCS also spent $63,882 on two years of the GoGuardian software to monitor about 7,000 students on Chromebooks during the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. The software filters internet content and notifies individual staff “about online activity that indicates a risk of suicide, self-harm, or possible harm to others,” according to its website.

The spending data was obtained through records requests.

Lansing School District enacted a new student ID badge program that cost about $954,547, which includes 7000 ID Cards, project management services, and a five-year support plan.

LSD is spending $720,000 on four public safety officer positions, including wages and benefits, “to deal with student discipline in schools due to a rise in safety and discipline issues since returning face to face.”

The district spent $20,000 on Crisis Prevention Intervention to train staff on nonviolent crisis intervention.

Lansing Catholic High School recently activated ZeroEyes software that identifies visible guns. The technology added to security cameras identifies guns and alerts school administrators and safety personnel within three to five seconds.

The decision was a “no-brainer,” according to LCHS President Dominic Iocco. 

“While we already have a robust security system, with campus-wide cameras and a lockout boot system, when I saw the ZeroEyes demo and realized how significantly it reduces law enforcement response time during an active shooter event, I knew that adopting the solution for our school was a no-brainer,” Iocco said in a statement. “Now that state funding is available, I encourage all Michigan school decision makers to take a close look at this proactive technology. Even schools that don’t have cameras yet could use this funding to deploy cameras and ZeroEyes at the same time.”

The Grand Rapids School District plans to spend $2.6 million of COVID money on security salaries and benefits.

Bridgeport-Spaulding Community District plans to spend COVID funds to buy and implement security technology “that includes body temperature monitoring, monitoring for social distancing in high-traffic areas where individuals congregate.”

Last week, the Michigan State Police provided training for the Teaching, Educating, and Mentoring School Liaison Program for about 30 police officers.

TEAM is a curriculum taught to grades K-12 by TEAM-trained police officers to unite educators, students, and law enforcement officers to better equip children to protect themselves from crime. The curriculum includes school safety and security, facility assessments, bullying and harassment, cybercrime, social media use, illicit drugs, and vaping.

This class included 30 officers, including two from MSP, 14 from sheriff’s offices, and 10 from township and city police departments. TEAM allows officers to teach at any of the three levels of education. The curriculum has been used in more than 250 Michigan school districts.

This story was originally published by The Center Square and used with permission.

Scott McClallen
Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.

Don't Miss Out!

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest education news and commentary everyone ought to know about.