Customer Story | Google Workspace & Microsoft 365 Safety and Cybersecurity at Tahlequah Public Schools

ManagedMethods helps Tahlequah Public Schools save money while improving cybersecurity and student safety in online learning

In Cherokee County, Oklahoma, at the foothills of the Ozarks, you’ll find Tahlequah Public Schools (TPS). With about 3,600 students and 450 staff members, TPS serves grades K-12 across seven schools combined.

Students use Google Workspace’s cloud applications, but everyone uses Microsoft Outlook for email. As a 1:1 district, kids receive iPads until second grade — and after that, they use Chromebooks.

Who’s responsible for keeping everything safe and secure? That’d be Technology Director Robert Batson. As the lead of a small team, cybersecurity and safety aren’t always easy. Fortunately, with ManagedMethods, he simplifies both through one solution.

“Cloud Monitor is above and beyond what other products in the space are offering. Not only do you get safety and security in one platform, but also the support team is great. They do a really good job of reaching out to make sure I’m comfortable with the platform and to run performance audits.”
— Robert Batson, Technology Director, Tahlequah Public Schools

The Challenge

Although Tahlequah’s cloud journey started before 2020, COVID-19 accelerated the process. Like most districts, they weren’t fully prepared for the security implications.

“You jump on stuff like this and don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” Batson said. “You know kids are going to misbehave eventually, but you have no visibility — which is concerning, of course.” In other words, he didn’t have a way to spot cloud-based risks.

“Security and safety aren’t going anywhere. In K-12, we’re at the point where you have to have something. I can’t recommend ManagedMethods enough. I know there are other products on the market, but Cloud Monitor is the only one I know of that does both security and safety together, which saves us time and money.”
— Robert Batson, Technology Director, Tahlequah Public Schools

They did have a few helpful tools in their tech stack, but nothing with the level of insight required to support cyber safety and security together. Visibility, Batson said, is a big deal.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” he explained. “There were a lot of problems we didn’t see until we found ManagedMethods.”

The Solution

Realizing the gaps in TPS’s security posture, Batson set off to fix the problem.

“We were talking with other tech directors about it, and one of them mentioned ManagedMethods as a good option,” he said. “So, I reached out and requested a demo.”

Years prior, he’d heard about a similar product called Gaggle. Batson weighed the two solutions but ultimately chose ManagedMethods’ Cloud Monitor platform due to price and the fact that Cloud Monitor also offers cybersecurity capabilities that safety-only competitors don’t provide.

The Results

The results were almost immediate. During their free trial, Cloud Monitor flagged emails between a student and an adult outside the district, living in another state. TPS notified law enforcement and the student’s foster parents and resolved the issue quickly.

“Schools are a big target, making cybersecurity so important and necessary to have something. ManagedMethods isn’t the end-all for everything in your cybersecurity strategy, but it gives you the visibility and control in Google and Microsoft that you need that many districts are missing.”
— Robert Batson, Technology Director, Tahlequah Public Schools

As Batson explained, he also had a safety monitoring solution called Lightspeed Alert. After a while, he realized he’d save thousands of dollars by switching to Cloud Monitor and eliminating redundant tools. Cost savings aside, the ability to intervene when necessary is a huge benefit for TPS.

“Sometimes kids just need someone to talk to,” Batson said. “They write things because they know it’s going to be flagged, knowing we can intervene and get the help they need.”

On the security side, he can now see apps in use and automatically revoke access to unsanctioned ones — thereby reducing third-party risk. Additionally, he’s also detected inappropriate content. “We had two students emailing inappropriate pictures back and forth,” he said. “Cloud Monitor helped us resolve it pretty quickly.”

Ultimately, Tahlequah Public Schools doesn’t have to choose between cyber safety and cybersecurity.

“It’s above and beyond what other products offer,” Batson said. “Cloud Monitor is the only one that does safety and security together.”

Want to learn more about how Cloud Monitor could improve your district’s cybersecurity? Claim your free Google Workspace and/or Microsoft 365 security and safety audit today.

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