From the beginning of her K–12 career, Stacy Royster has kept student safety a top priority. When she transitioned to her current role of Chief Technology Officer at Opelika City Schools (OCS), that promise remained steadfast.
“Unfortunately, I had a student that died by suicide and one of the vows that I made when I stepped into this role was to make sure that I can protect students and watch out for them inside and outside of school,” Royster reveals.
With Royster as their new CTO, Opelika City Schools is committed to keeping all students safe—100% of the time. This proved to be challenging as the district is located along a major interstate highway in Alabama where child abductions and trafficking are unfortunate realities.
As a long-time subscriber to Lightspeed Filter™, Opelika City Schools knew they could trust Lightspeed Systems® to provide them with a solution that would measure up to Opelika’s standards.
Royster adopted Lightspeed Alert, which is an early-warning threat detection system that prevents selfharm, cyberbullying, suicide, and school violence. AI technology scans and flags concerning indicators within educational apps, browsers, documents, as well as chat messaging, and social media platforms.
Alerts are sent simultaneously to Opelika safety personnel and to highly trained, 24/7/365 Lightspeed Safety Specialists, who then conduct a threat assessment. Imminent threats are immediately escalated to OCS safety personnel and/or law enforcement, giving OCS peace of mind that no alert will go unnoticed, no matter the day or time.
“We need to watch for warning signs in hidden ways, and students will release this information through technology. They’ll type into a Google search, an online document, or a private chat. Having the technology to receive an immediate alert has been life-changing in many ways. Lightspeed Alert has had a substantial impact on our work. It has relieved me and our other tech personnel from having to monitor emails around the clock. If something requires our attention, we get a phone call, and determine where to go from there”, Royster says
Shortly after implementation, Opelika received an alert from the Lightspeed team about a 2nd grader who was typing into a document, confessing the reasons they wanted to end their life. Royster recalls, “My heart sank, but we saw the alert immediately and were able to intervene and get them the support they needed.”
With the support of Lightspeed Alert and the human response team, Opelika district has been able to stop several abductions, self-harm incidents, and suicide attempts before they took place. “Without an early warning threat detection system, we’d risk alerts not coming through until it is too late.” Royster says.
By partnering with Lightspeed Systems, Opelika can continue to keep their commitment of keeping all students safe—100% of the time. District safety and technology personnel can focus their efforts in other areas knowing they have the support of Lightspeed Safety Specialists giving them peace of mind that no alert will go unnoticed, no matter the day or time.
“I can’t say enough how grateful I am to have Lightspeed Systems in place, and what it has allowed us to do. Now, I can sleep at night knowing that this is out there, and that it’s a way that I can keep students safe. The safety of our students is our top priority, and these technologies have changed the face of how we operate.” Royster explains.
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.