June 21, 2024

Navigating Texas HB 18 (SCOPE Act) with GoGuardian Admin and Beacon

GoGuardian Team
A photo of a student, a shield, and an outline of the state of Texas

Texas House Bill (HB) 18, also known as the SCOPE Act, brings crucial standards to safeguard students' digital experiences and empower educators and caregivers. Effective September 1, 2024, this bill mandates certain data protections, content restrictions, and caregiver controls for digital service providers utilized in Texas schools.

Student safety and privacy have always been paramount here at GoGuardian, influencing every aspect from product development to implementation. Each feature and functionality is meticulously designed to uphold the highest standards in safeguarding student well-being and confidentiality. We remain dedicated to serving as a trusted partner by reaffirming our commitment to Texas schools. With GoGuardian, educators and administrators can confidently navigate the complexities of the SCOPE Act and stay ahead of emerging needs with our support.

We’ve created this resource to help you understand the requirements of HB18, and how GoGuardian Admin and Beacon meet, and in some cases even surpass these standards.

Understanding Texas HB 18 (SCOPE Act)

The SCOPE Act requires covered digital service providers to furnish minors with specific data protections, curbing access to harmful content, and empowering caregivers with tools to manage their child’s digital engagement. Furthermore, it stipulates school districts adhere to standards set by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) concerning devices and apps provided to students.

How GoGuardian Admin and Beacon ensure compliance

Internet filtering and content restrictions

HB 18 mandates the installation of an internet filter to block access to inappropriate materials before issuing electronic devices to students. GoGuardian Admin rises to this challenge with its comprehensive K-12 web filter, effortlessly managing users, devices, and networks. Admin supports a conducive learning environment with robust filtering capabilities while accommodating diverse device types and operating systems.

Additionally, GoGuardian Admin allows administrators to set up tailored policies, including restricting access to social media platforms — a key requirement outlined in the bill. Custom policy templates and group-based filtering enable precise control over students’ online activities, aligning with the SCOPE Act's directives.

Monitoring and alerting for concerning content

A crucial aspect of HB 18 is the obligation to notify appropriate school administrators if students access content related to self-harm, violence, or illicit drugs. 

GoGuardian Admin's Smart Alerts feature employs advanced algorithms to observe browsing activities, continuously flagging inappropriate content in real time. Administrators can customize alert settings, ensuring prompt intervention when necessary.

Complementing this, GoGuardian Beacon acts as a proactive tool for student mental health support. By identifying online behaviors indicative of suicide risk, it enables designated responders to enact swift intervention measures, aligning with the SCOPE Act's emphasis on student well-being.

Complaint handling and data privacy

HB 18 requires schools to designate offices to address complaints regarding student device usage and online safety concerns. GoGuardian Beacon facilitates this by allowing customization of escalation lists for different types of alerts, ensuring prompt responses to varying concerns. Additionally, GoGuardian Admin prioritizes student privacy, minimizing data collection and adhering to stringent FERPA and COPPA regulations.

Here at GoGuardian, student safety and privacy remain at the forefront of our mission and have been a focus since the day we started our ten-year journey. As we continue to evolve and innovate, our commitment to ensuring future releases for GoGuardian Admin and GoGuardian Beacon don’t just meet, but exceed, the measures set forth by bills like the SCOPE Act remain steadfast. 

We've crafted this FAQ resource to address any lingering questions, reaffirming our commitment to serving as a trusted partner for Texas schools. By integrating our latest solutions, educators and administrators can confidently navigate the complexities of the SCOPE Act while staying ahead of emerging needs, ultimately prioritizing student safety and flourishing in the digital age.

FAQ’s about Texas HB 18

Want to understand how GoGuardian Admin and Beacon help schools comply with the SCOPE Act? Specifically, Texas HB 18 requires school districts to:

1. “install an internet filter that blocks and prohibits certain pornographic, obscene, and harmful materials or applications” before providing an electronic device to a student. Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 32.104.5

GoGuardian Admin is the most complete K12 web filter that handles users, devices, and networks effortlessly. Robust filtering ensures effective learning environments, seamlessly accommodating all device types and operating systems via a unified interface.

2. “consider appropriate restrictions on student access to social media websites or applications with an electronic device transferred to a student by a school or district.” Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 32.1021.7

GoGuardian Admin provides the option to use pre-made policy templates or create custom policies - including the ability to restrict access to social media websites. Moreover, GoGuardian Admin's Custom Groups feature allows admins to create customized groups and place students in those groups as needed. Each group can have its own dedicated filtering Policy and rules applied to make filtering more flexible and granular.

3. “consider the required use of an Internet filter capable of notifying appropriate school administrators… if a student accesses inappropriate or concerning content or words, including content related to: self-harm, suicide, violence to others, or illicit drugs.” Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 32.1021.9

GoGuardian Admin’s Smart Alerts feature uses advanced machine learning algorithms to observe student browsing activity for inappropriate content continuously. Alerts can be set up to notify administrators, block content automatically, and message the student. GoGuardian Beacon helps schools support student mental health by identifying online activity that indicates a risk of suicide and alerting designated responders to activate your school’s response plan quickly.

4. “assign to the appropriate office of a school or district with the duty to receive complaints or concerns regarding student use of electronic devices, including . . . online safety concerns.”Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 32.1021.10

GoGuardian Beacon’s alert notification settings enable you to customize your notification preferences to fit the unique needs of your school or district. Granular notification settings allow you to define separate escalation lists during and after-hours for Suicide & Self Harm and Threats & Violence to ensure the right responders are notified depending on the type of alert and time of day.

5. “minimize data collection conducted on students through electronic devices and software applications.” Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 32.1021.1

GoGuardian Admin and Beacon are recognized leaders in protecting student privacy and are independently certified by IKeepSafe as compliant with FERPA and COPPA.

Download the full list of FAQs