School officials in Somersworth, N.H., might limit access to internet sites after death threats that mention pupils by name were posted on a web message board.
School Superintendent Charles Ott said messages posted Nov. 15 and 16 included life-threatening racist remarks. They were signed by someone who used the initials KKK, in reference to the Ku Klux Klan.
Ott said it is unclear whether that message and other racist posts were written from school computers, but the district is considering installing filtering software to keep pupils away from inappropriate sites.
“We are at the high school looking at our computers to determine what actually took place on them,” he said.
For now, teachers monitor pupils using computers. According to the district’s business administrator, Duane Ford, adding the protections could cost as much as $11,000.
Although such filters would not stop anyone from making threats from home, Ott said, school officials want to do all they can to make sure the district’s computers are used properly.
Every pupil must sign an acceptable-use policy at the beginning of the school year. The policy requires users to be ethical and courteous, and it clearly states that pupils cannot send hate, harassing, or obscene mail, discriminatory remarks, or demonstrate other antisocial behavior.
“To me, that’s a good-faith agreement that needs to be adhered to,” Ott said, adding that it is possible that many messages were not sent by the pupils who signed them.
“It seems like an inherently sneaky and cowardly thing to do to go and post an anonymous message under a false name,” Ott said. “To attempt to do it and take no personal responsibility, that’s a very dishonest thing to do.”
Ott has contacted the parents of the targeted pupils and met with all high school students to discuss the threat.