Idiotic School Administrators…
KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) — They’re being called the Kutztown 13 — a group of high schoolers charged with felonies for bypassing security with school-issued laptops, downloading forbidden Internet goodies and using monitoring software to spy on district administrators.
The students, their families and outraged supporters say authorities are overreacting, punishing the kids not for any heinous behavior — no malicious acts are alleged — but rather because they outsmarted the district’s technology workers.
The Kutztown Area School District begs to differ. It says it reported the students to police only after detentions, suspensions and other punishments failed to deter them from breaking school rules governing computer usage.
Looks pretty bad. The school district tried to punish these students on their own using school punishments, but that didn’t work. But is that the full story? Not quite.
The trouble began last fall after the district issued some 600 Apple iBook laptops to every student at the high school about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The computers were loaded with a filtering program that limited Internet access. They also had software that let administrators see what students were viewing on their screens.
But those barriers proved easily surmountable: The administrative password that allowed students to reconfigure computers and obtain unrestricted Internet access was easy to obtain. A shortened version of the school’s street address, the password was taped to the backs of the computers.
The password got passed around and students began downloading such forbidden programs as the popular iChat instant-messaging tool.–emphasis added
Personally, I think the school administrators should be charged with a crime for being so blazingly stupid as to leave the password taped to the backs of the computers. Hello, McFly…Think! Are the school administrators so stupid that they were worried they’d forget the password if it wasn’t taped to the back of the laptops?
The first question that comes to mind is: why didn’t the school district take back the laptops until they were sure that such stupid loopholes in their security were addressed.
And the kids have their own website (put up and maintained by an uncle of one of the kids). One interesting tidbit is this,
At a school board meeting ~ a year ago, opponents of the high schoolÃ¢€™s Computer Initiative predicted that the administration would not be able to control the studentÃ¢€™s access to inappropriate internet sites. The administration promised that they had the technology and would be competent and capable of protecting the students from these dangers. The administration confidently moved the program forward.
And then tapped the passwords the kids needed to get around the security measures to the back of the laptops. Brilliant. I know, I know, just because you leave your door wide open isn’t an invitation to steal your television set. But it is really stupid to leave the door wide open. How much sympathy do you have for a person who has had their credit card used illegal by another when that person didn’t just lose the credit card, but started handing out copies of it to random strangers?
Unfortunately our program did not allow for the temporary suspension of computer privileges. Some kids who had trouble resisting temptation tried to turn in their laptops and were forced by the administration to take them back. And the administration still seems to prefer the option of felony charges, and intimidation over the simple withdrawal of computer privileges.
I tell you the level of stupidity here on the part of the school administration is amazing. They basically locked themselves into a situation they couldn’t get out of, and to solve this mistake they are going to charge students who have not done anything other than veiw some porn (news flash: every teen has seen porn) and download some games and programs like iChat.
And it looks like the school administration decided to keep the parents out of the loop,
Most of the parents were shocked and outraged that the administration had never contacted or consulted with them about the need to modify their kids behavior.
Further, there is also the question of where the children apprised of their rights when being questioned by the administration and the police,
Dozens of children were brought to the office for questioning. Some were threatened with felony charges if they did not tell all. At no time were they informed that their answers might be used against them in a court of law.
Now all the facts are not known, but it seems to me that it is very likely that the school administration shoulders some of the responsibility here. From what I have read, it seems like the parents did not understand the severity of the problem here. If this is true, this is a failure on the part of the school administration. Second, it is patently obvious that the program was not at all ready for implementation from a security stand point. In this regard the school administration is fully responsible. I also question the types of punishments that were used. Suspensions would require parental notification, and yet many of the comments I’ve seen indicate that the parents were unaware of the seriousness of this problem. It is plainly obvious that these kids broke the rules and should be punished. But at the same time the school administration went forward with a program it was totally incapable of administering, and may have handled the punishments inappropriately. Not only should the students be punished, but people in the administration need to be fired, IMO. I know if I were to violate computer security like these administrators did I’d most likely get fired.