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Linewize Webinar Stresses Need for K-12 Safety Monitoring

A company that sells student monitoring software hosted a webinar this week emphasizing the importance of such tools in getting ahead of potential tragic events with students, given rising mental health issues in K-12.

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With violence at schools on the rise, according to sources such as EducationWeek and the National Association of School Resource Officers, some school administrators and companies who serve them believe conversations and tools focused on student safety are needed now more than ever.

That was the gist of a webinar Thursday hosted by Linewize, a San Diego-based cyber safety company that monitors student devices, called “A Complete Guide to Student Safety & Online Monitoring Solutions for K-12.” Led by Linewize North America’s Executive Vice President Ross Young and the company’s psychologist and certified digital wellness educator Teodora Pavkovic, the event emphasized the importance of student safety by way of technology and artificial intelligence-driven monitoring systems, in light of events such as the recent shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan last November.

Linewize offers a system that monitors, either through an AI or a human moderator, anything a student types into a classroom device — including Google, Office365, offline documents, web chat, social media and other digital spaces. It utilizes AI to predict potential risks, such as violence, bullying, suicide, drugs or abuse, and alerts the school by email or phone if a situation is deemed high-risk and credible.

Young said the process involves collecting and reviewing data, creating a plan, educating departments on how to properly respond to these situations, deploying the Linewize system and then conducting periodic reviews to see how well it worked. Young also noted that, following the review, a school district and the monitoring system company should communicate about any potential adjustments that need to be made.

“The bottom line is, whether you look at it or not, these things are happening in your school district,” Young stressed. “How do we mobilize and get to them? Protecting our children is at the heart of all of us.”

Noting that her role with Linewize is less about technology than community and parent education, Pavkovik said the mental health and well-being of students has been in decline since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The use of AI monitoring systems in schools, she said, could be vital.

“I think we’ve come to the stage where it’s become absolutely clear that we really can’t fulfill our mission — which is to keep children safe online — without involving the whole community and parent community,” she said. “In particular, making sure that (the parents and community) know and understand and have some insights into what their children are doing online.”

One school district that has partnered with Linewize is New Jersey’s South Bound Brook School District. Lenny Libitz, the district’s chief technology officer, said in a recorded video that the district partnered up with Linewize after a series of student incidents.

“A lot of times students will type something into a computer and that’s their voice. They feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to at home,” Libitz said. “Having Linewize as a tool allowed us to help some of our most vulnerable students in our community and get them the assistance they needed.”

Libitz added that the software helped staff to take a step back and focus on their work, noting Linewize Monitor only alerts staff for severe situations.

“If we didn’t have this service, we would have missed a student who needed help,” he said. “I’m grateful we have this. It’s peace of mind.”

Linewize, a subsidiary of Australia-based FamilyZone, is utilized in school districts that serve more than 10 million K-12 students across the country.
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.