The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Gaggle software comes to Westfield Public Schools

With the 2023-24 school year underway, WHS is introducing a new resource to try and improve the overall well-being of the student body. The software is called Gaggle, designed by one of the world’s leading student surveillance software companies dedicated to helping students get the emotional and mental support they need.

Gaggle software is used to monitor student online activity on school-owned computers and school Google accounts. It identifies specific key-words and phrases that demonstrate the possibility of a student being in danger, potentially threatening themselves or others.

According to, Gaggle’s software saved the lives of 1,562 students by targeting key-words like “suicide,” “I hate myself” or “end my life,” in order to protect students who are “planning or actively attempting suicide.”

If the software flags one of these keywords or phrases, then Gaggle employees will assess the amount of concern the flag shows. The words fall under two categories: “questionable content” and “student situation.”

A phrase flagged under “student situation” will result in a direct call from Gaggle employees to the school administration. For “questionable content,” administration will be notified via email and will check in with the counselor or teachers of the student and assess the situation.

In the context of students expressing themselves to their teachers in assignments, WHS does not want students to use Gaggle as a reason not to open up. Assistant Principal Dr. Warren Hynes said, “Gaggle is basically hanging out in the background, making sure that if someone is in need, the right people know about it.”

Naturally, students may worry about the security of their personal information. Senior Logan Shepherd said, “I think that [Gaggle] is a step in the right direction, but despite this, I do have some concerns for privacy.” However, according to, the software only monitors things being produced through school-issued products, it does not monitor students’ private email accounts and social media pages.

As of Oct. 6, 2022, Gaggle is working with over 1,500 school districts across the United States, which encompasses about 6 million students, making it one of the biggest student surveillance companies in the world.

The cost of Gaggle is something that varies from district to district based on numerous factors including the needs and budgets the district has. According to Westfield BOE Business Administrator and Board Secretary Patricia Ramos, “The total cost [of Gaggle] for the first year [in Westfield] was $30,972. Included in this cost was an initial setup fee of $2,000 and webinar training for administrators at a cost of $1,000.”

However, the cost of Gaggle will not be a one-time payment as the district owes the company a new fee at the beginning of each school year. “The recurring cost for Gaggle will be $4.75 per student. So the total cost will depend on the enrollment [number] provided to Gaggle each year,” Ramos said.

Dr. Hynes does not believe the introduction of Gaggle to Westfield should be something that is a subject of concern for students or teachers. “We’re living in the middle of a mental health epidemic,” he said. “Let’s be honest, that’s the reason for Gaggle.”

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