District officials said a North Georgia middle school student was removed from class Friday morning after a tech-monitoring service alerted them to a threatening email apparently sent by the 12-year-old.
The Dawson County Middle School student, who was not named, has been charged with one count of making terroristic threats and one count of disrupting a public school.
The threat was intercepted by Illinois-based company Gaggle, which contracts with districts across the country to monitor student activity on school-issued computers, tablets and email addresses.
According to Gaggle’s website, the company thwarted 542 suicide attempts last year and blocked more than 1,700 instances of child pornography.
Bill McCullough, the company’s vice president of sales, said Gaggle contracts with 1,400 school districts, including nine in Georgia.
“We specialize in helping schools save the lives of students and we do that by analyzing the communication kids are doing on their school-issued tools,” he told AJC.com. “We’re looking for kids who are in crisis — whether that crisis is bullying, suicidal thoughts and depression, drugs or alcohol, threats of violence or weapons on campus.”
McCullough said Gaggle is able to monitor students’ online activities on school-issued devices as well as personal phones and laptops where school-issued email addresses are used.
Tony Wooten, safe schools coordinator for the Dawson County School System, said the district recently started using the service.
“Our school system provides students with iPads, so when students are using those devices, Gaggle helps monitor what students are doing,” said Wooten, who joined the school district after 18 years with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to thwarting school threats, Wooten said the program alerts authorities to students who may want to harm themselves.
“It lets us know and then we have several people on our team who can follow up with that student,” he said. “We make sure we reach out to them immediately.”
Gaggle’s annual contracts with school districts start at $6 per student, McCullough said.
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