Committed to providing students with the tools and skills necessary to succeed in life, Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) runs a 1:1 student device technology program with Chromebooks throughout their K–12 schools. VUSD also stresses the importance of physical safety for their students and staff providing an extremely thorough district safety plan–including a tip line, crisis team, and threat assessment processes.
Additionally, Visalia Unified School District leveraged the Safety Check feature within Lightspeed Filter for crisis monitoring. Safety Check, the predecessor to Lightspeed Alert, provided the machine-learning foundational training for the Lightspeed Alert artificial intelligence. With hundreds of alerts flagged daily, Judy Burgess, Director of Equity and Student Services, and her staff found themselves monitoring every flagged alert day and night. District administration and safety personnel saw that Burgess needed more support in ensuring student safety.
As a long-time subscriber to Lightspeed Filter, Visalia Unified School District knew they could trust Lightspeed Systems® to provide them with the extra level of support that Burgess and her team truly needed to keep their students safe.
With a mission to ensure school board approval, Burgess advocated for the adoption of Lightspeed Alert, an early-warning threat detection system that prevents self-harm, cyberbullying, suicide, and school violence. “When I found out about Lightspeed Alert, I told my boss I would write the check myself. This was a dream software for me.”
With Lightspeed Alert, AI technology scans and flags concerning indicators within VUSD educational apps, browsers, documents, as well as chat messaging, and social media platforms. Alerts are sent simultaneously to Visalia Unified School District safety personnel and to highly trained, 24/7/365 Lightspeed Safety Specialists who then conduct a threat assessment. Threats of imminence are immediately escalated to VUSD safety personnel and/or law enforcement, ensuring no alert is overlooked.
Shortly after implementing Lightspeed Alert, Burgess saw several flags of high-risk alerts for self-harm. These alerts are serious and VUSD does not take them lightly. Burgess was relieved to have the support of Lightspeed safety specialists investigating these alerts.
This last year, 87% of Lightspeed Alert flags within Visalia Unified School District were issued for students who were not otherwise on their radar. “I can’t emphasize enough, and how seriously, that Lightspeed Alert saves lives. We have instances where we have gotten the alert, called law enforcement and literally stopped a student from hurting themself,” Burgess explains. “This was for a student we never even expected to have an issue.”
Just one of many life-saving instances, a 5th grade student, not previously on the district’s alert list, searched online for “painless ways to die,” and “how to hang myself quietly.” Realizing the imminence of the threat, a Lightspeed safety specialist called law enforcement and notified Burgess. The student was home alone, and law enforcement arrived at her home in time to save her life.
In numerous instances, Lightspeed safety specialists have helped Burgess deescalate crises and provide early intervention, keeping students and the community safe. “Lightspeed Alert is well received across all staff, parents, and our community. Our students are well aware of its existence, and they know we’re here to support their needs. One student even reached out directly through an online document, knowing we were watching,” Burgess reveals.
“Before we had the support of Lightspeed safety specialists, I was doing all the alert reviewing myself. I was losing sleep and working throughout the night. This has been a game-changer for me. Getting the one alert that saves a life—that makes this worth it.”
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.