Effingham Co. Schools tests new monitoring software, flags suicide searches

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - As technology continues to become prevalent in the classrooms, the Effingham County School District says it wants to keep a close eye on students' online activity.

The school system is testing several new monitoring software, like GoGuardian and SecURLy.

Jeff Lariscy is the Media Services Coordinator for Effingham County Schools.

"You get a search where a student asks Google, 'How to tie a noose' and 'What to do when you experience rejection' all within a few minutes of each other, that sets off some red flags," Lariscy said.

And it's the new monitoring software that the Effingham County School District is testing that waved those flags.

"We already filter content for our students for inappropriate searches, but this adds another layer of reporting," Lariscy said.

Since the trial started, the Effingham County School District says the software has flagged two students searching for information on suicide.

Kate Keith is a high school guidance counselor for the Effingham County School District. She's the one that got the emails about the students' searches.

"I immediately got the students and called their parents and asked them to meet with us," Keith said.

Keith says a student's mental health is primary and the school system wants to take action when it's appropriate.

"We put aside everything else, the academics and everything else until they're healthy again," Keith said.

She said the monitoring software opens conversations with both the students and their families.

"Did they have thoughts of suicide? What was the need surrounding it," Keith questioned.

And it's something Keith hopes the school system will keep.

"We would have never known about those students had it not been in place," Keith added.

The school system is only testing the software at this time. Once the district selects the appropriate monitoring software, school officials will add it to the proposed budget for the upcoming school year.

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