But the move to 24-hour monitoring was not without concern.
Last week, the Madison School Board weighed the benefits of potentially preventing bullying and suicide with protecting student privacy and how the collected data could be used.
Ultimately, the board approved on a 5-1 vote spending $114,408 over the next two years to expand the district’s use of the software. Board member Nicki Vander Meulen was the sole opponent, but others voiced some misgivings before signing off.
Vander Meulen, who is an attorney, said some of her issues with the product relate to the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, adding she is concerned information flagged by the software could be used in criminal cases.
“It also worries me on the privacy issue. We want our teens to trust us, we want them to talk to us,” said Vander Meulen, who added she thought the money might be better spent on school counselors.
Board president Gloria Reyes said the software would not be monitoring student’s personal devices, but rather district-owned devices provided to students.
She said the software is worth it if it could prevent a suicide attempt or flag school safety threats.
Related: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”