When Hoover City Schools went fully 1:1, district technology leaders recognized an opportunity to proactively identify students in crisis via their online activity. However, principals of individual Hoover City schools expressed concern that they would miss activity, especially on evenings and weekends.
With Lightspeed Alert, Hoover City can focus on helping students by flagging potential instances of self-harm, bullying, and violence found in students’ web and Microsoft suite activity. School principals are supported by the Lightspeed human review team, which reviews alerts 24/7/365 and escalates those that indicate a potential critical event.
OPPORTUNITY: In Need of a True Technology Partner to Identify Students in Crisis
Coming out of the pandemic, Hoover City School District’s Chief Technology Officer Bryan Phillips knew that his district needed a new technology solution to identify students in crisis via their online behavior. The district had gone full 1:1 during distance learning. At the same time, student mental health issues began to increase. Bryan knew that mental health issues could often be uncovered by looking at students’ online searches, messages, and documents, but he needed help scanning the vast amount of information and flagging potential indicators. “We knew we were missing things around self-harm and bullying in particular,” says Phillips.
Like Phillips, the district’s new superintendent believed in the power of technology to find students in need of help. District principals, however, had concerns. They worried that they would be getting nonstop communications during after-school hours and that they would be liable if they missed an email or weren’t able to address an issue right away. Hoover City needed a technology provider that would be a true partner and provide a team to work alongside district and school leaders to identify students in need of help. Hoover City found this partner in Lightspeed Alert and its human review team.
SOLUTION: 24/7 Human Review with Lightspeed Alert Gives Principals Peace of Mind
Lightspeed Alert’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) system now scans the web and Google suite activity of Hoover City’s students, looking for signs of trouble. The system sends alerts about potential self-harm, violence and bullying—topics that truly show a student needs help. Technology systems they used previously sent notifications for issues like curse words, but Hoover City determined that it didn’t need to look for that type of behavior. “We went from wanting to discipline kids to actually trying to help kids,” explains Bryan. “The shift from using this type of technology as a discipline tool to an information health and safety tool really turned the corner for us in its acceptance.”
School principals also realized that they had a full-time team of trained Lightspeed Safety Specialists with backgrounds in education, mental health, and law enforcement to back them up. When an alert is flagged, a safety specialist from the human review team investigates it no matter the day or time. If the safety specialist deems the alert to be critical, he or she notifies contacts from Hoover City’s designated escalation list via email or phone. “Principals realized it’s not totally on them,” says Bryan. “They’re part of a team. The trust that was built between our team and [Lightspeed’s human review] team helps a lot. We see the same names over and over again and realize it’s the same people looking at our kids every time.”
At the building level, assistant principals and principals are usually the ones to receive alerts. At the district level, Bryan, the Hoover City School Resource Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, and a Head Interventionist all receive alerts. If a school doesn’t respond to an alert within five minutes, the district will take action. Principals recognized the value of Lightspeed Alert after only a few instances of students being helped. With the human review team to back them up, especially after hours, principals have now spoken up in favor of having Lightspeed Alert in their schools.
RESULTS: Saving Time by Finding Students in Need of Help
Hoover City receives on average two to five alerts each week that require action. Many times, alerts are received for students already on principals’ radars, but principals see the biggest impact when students who showed no other signs of trouble in the past, are identified. Everything from bullying to self-harm has been flagged and then acted upon. The Lightspeed Alert system has also allowed Hoover City to build more of a framework and a plan around identification and intervention. Each team member understands his or her specific role, from receiving alerts to sharing the information with a counselor or interventionist who can help. “We’re not spending lots of time looking for stuff,” explains Bryan. “It’s easy now to see it and then pass it along to where it needs to be.”
About Lightspeed Systems
Lightspeed Systems, headquartered in Austin, Texas, is a leading online safety and effectiveness platform for K–12 schools. A proven partner for student safety and engagement, Lightspeed uses advanced AI to view and analyze student activity across the web. Lightspeed serves over 20 million students in 38 countries and 28,000 schools globally.