State audit finds pornography on school computers

State audit finds pornography on school computers

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - A state audit found pornography and other explicit material on school computers that were sent home with students.

One-hundred and fifty devices were checked from 18 schools that are part of the state's One-to-One Initiative across nine districts. Twenty percent showed evidence students could access inappropriate material, and school district filters intended to prevent that did not work.

School districts in the Pine Belt said they do not send computers home with students, but said internet safety at school and at home are priorities.

"Our main focus is, of course, to keep children safe with in the Petal School District," said John Rector, director of technology for the district. "Every day, there's thousands of websites being added to the internet, and there's really no 100 percent, for sure way to block everything that could possibly get through to the children, but we do our best."

Rector said the district uses multiple lines of defense, like filters and teacher oversight, to ensure computer activity is monitored. The Forrest County School District does the same.

"I'm constantly watching our filter, while I'm at my desk, " said Chris Hill, director of technology for the Forrest County School District. "If I see something that needs to be blocked, I'll block it. We also have some other software that we use to monitor the computers that they use to see what they're downloading an accessing on those computers."

Both districts educate students on best practices.

"That is something that we do in each of our schools," Hill said. "It is required. They have to read through our internet policy each year and accept that policy so that they know exactly what to expect."

Rector said, "At the beginning of every school year, every class, every teacher goes through safe computer usage, proper internet usage, as well as online safety. They go through that the first nine weeks in school, and every student has to pass a little test that they give them. They have to follow those procedures throughout the school year or else they could lose their computer privileges."

Rector and Hill said internet safety education does not stop with students. They work with parents to be sure children are safe online at home.

"We had a parent night at one of the local venues that we actually trained the parents what to look for," Rector said.

Hill said, "On our website, we have some information on digital citizenship, the way that you should act when you are online. (Things like) sharing passwords, you don't need to do that. You don't need to talk to strangers or anything like that online. Just some common sense things that you shouldn't do while you're online. There's a lot of resources out there that they can go in to look at. We encourage parents to read that, and learn more about it, so they will know a little bit more about what we do and what we need them to do at home."