Oct 21, 2022 - News

Santa Fe school district using grant for social media surveillance

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Santa Fe Independent School District will install 160 cameras in its five campuses and implement a digital surveillance system thanks to federal grant funding awarded this week, school officials tell Axios.

Driving the news: Santa Fe is one of five Houston-area school districts to receive a grant under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed in response to the massacre inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde this May.

  • Sen. John Cornyn announced the grant recipients yesterday.

Why it matters: Santa Fe High School was home to one of Texas' deadliest school shootings in 2018 when eight students and two teachers were killed.

What's happening: While the bill was authored in part to increase mental health resources for students, Santa Fe ISD will use all of its $150,000 to surveil students.

  • A spokesperson said the district will purchase software called Linewize Monitor, which monitors students' social media and other school-related apps for potentially dangerous activity like threats or references to self-harm.
  • Elsewhere, the funds will be used for additional mental health services and safety resources, according to Cornyn's office.

By the numbers: Alief ISD received the highest allotment of Houston-area districts — $486,000.

  • The remainder of the districts receiving funding include Brazosport ISD, Spring Branch ISD and High Island ISD.
  • Of note: Other districts did not respond to a request for comment.

What they're saying: "No parent should fear for the safety of their student when they drop them off at school, and no student should be afraid when they walk into the classroom," Cornyn said in a statement.

Dig deeper: In addition to funding for mental health and school safety, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes enhanced background checks for those under 21, incentives for states to implement "red flag" laws and limits on the "boyfriend loophole."

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