A Newly introduced Federal Bill prompts Texas schools to begin to monitor students social media

Published: Nov. 7, 2019 at 6:34 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - With a newly introduced federal bill, Texas public schools could be required to monitor students' social media.

The reasoning for it, to detect minors who are at risk of hurting themselves or others.

The monitoring would be done by software and if a post contains any keywords that indicate a threat to a student or the school, the district would be notified.

“It’s looking for those keywords like gun or suicide or anything that would be a concern or any bullying terms that would be a concern for our school district,” said Assistant Superintendent of River Road ISD Andy Nies.

River Road is one of the few schools in the country using software to monitor social media.

The school district says they’ve been keeping up with legislation and saw things heading in this direction and obtained the software to be proactive.

“Within the last month, we’ve been researching since the beginning of the school year trying to find something that would work and meet our needs and we recently found it, got on board and recently started up with it,” said Nies.

The program River Road uses has certain key words the company and River Road have flagged. Every Time those words are used, the program company is notified. If the post seems like a threat to the school district, administrators are notified.

River Road says once they learned the price for such technology, they were sold.

“It’s very reasonable. It’s three dollars students, so it’s very reasonable for us, and it’s worth the money you know, to help ensure students' safety,” said Nies.

We have reached out to surrounding school districts regarding their response to the bill and procedures they currently have in place.

Amarillo ISD responded with the following statement:

"It is too early to say how the district would respond to legislation until we are given a directive from the federal government. Currently, the district uses several products to filter and monitor student activities while using our network. Beginning this semester, the district started filtering student activities while off our district network when the student is using a district-issued device. The students do have relaxed filtering when off-premise allowing access to social media.”

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