The Liverpool school district has appealed a decision to dismiss disciplinary charges against its technology administrator, according to the Post-Standard. Hearing officer Stuart M. Pohl on March 4 dismissed the district’s efforts to remove Bonnie Ladd, director of computer education and services. Ladd has been on paid suspension since April 27, 2007. The district has paid her more than $200,000 in salary and health benefits while she has been on suspension. Pohl said the district failed to tell Ladd what penalties she faced when they charged her. State law requires her to be notified of the penalties. Liverpool school board president J. Mark Lawson said because Pohl dismissed the charges based on a procedural flaw — not on the merits of the case — board members voted 7-1 Thursday to appeal the decision. "We believe the court should hear this case on its merits," Lawson said. Board vice president David B. Savlov voted not to appeal the decision……Read More
Officials with the Carl Junction R-1 School District in Missouri say computer hackers apparently were able to transfer nearly $200,000 out of the district’s bank account, reports the Joplin Globe. Authorities as of earlier this week had managed to recover $80,000 of the amount stolen, and school officials say they are confident that the district’s insurance will cover any money that is not retrieved. Superintendent Phil Cook said a virus struck the district’s computer system on Feb. 26, and the district later learned that a portion of that virus allowed someone to access the district’s bank account. Cook said about $200,000 was transferred from the district’s account to a number of banks nationwide in increments of about $8,000. He said the virus that hit the district’s system contained a "key logger" that allowed the hackers to recognize computer keystrokes. "They were then able to recognize when people signed on to our system and their passwords, and they were specifically looking for people signing in to our bank account," Cook said. The virus was not detected by any of the numerous antivirus programs the school district employs, he added……Read More
Just days after testing a cell phone jammer designed to block students from calling and texting during class, a Spokane, Wash., area school has scrapped the program, MSNBC reports. Administrators at Mt. Spokane High School used the jammer during class periods last week to prevent students from texting. The jammer blocked all cell phone service within about a 30-foot radius. Administrators at Mt. Spokane tested the device, and then waited for clarification from the district as to whether the device was legal. District officials said their technology department reviewed FCC code and decided the jammer was probably not legal. They also said they were concerned about a block in communication during a potential campus emergency……Read More
A student who was suspended from high school for ranting against a teacher on Facebook is suing to have the blemish removed from her record, reports the New York Times. Katherine Evans said she was frustrated with her English teacher for ignoring her pleas for help with assignments and a brusque reproach when she missed class to attend a school blood drive. So Evans, who was then a high school senior and honor student, logged onto Facebook and wrote a rant against the teacher, Sarah Phelps. A few days later, Evans removed the post from her Facebook page and went about the business of preparing for graduation and studying journalism in the fall. But two months after her online venting, Evans was called into the principal’s office and was told she was being suspended for cyber bullying, a blemish on her record that she said she feared could keep her from getting into graduate schools or landing her dream job. "It was all very quick the way it happened," said Evans, now a freshman at the University of Florida. She is suing the principal of her school for ordering her suspension. She is asking for no monetary compensation beyond her legal fees, said her lawyer, and she simply wants to have the suspension removed from her record. A lawyer for the school, Pembroke Pines Charter High School, has yet to respond to the legal complaint, filed in December, and refused to comment on the pending litigation……Read More
The University of Missouri is suing one of its professors in a case that points to the pitfalls of "technology transfer," the growing enterprise in which university labs help incubate discoveries that can speed lifesaving drugs and modern conveniences to market.
Mere months ago, the University of Missouri routinely touted chemical engineering professor Galen Suppes for his innovative research into renewable energy.
Now the university considers him a renegade scientist trying to keep the school from getting its fair share of profits from his inventions. Missouri is suing the professor in federal court.…Read More
As eSchool News has reported before, the growing trend of teenagers distributing nude self-portraits electronically–often called "sexting" if it’s done by cell phone–has parents and school administrators worried. Some prosecutors have begun charging teens who send and receive such images with child pornography and other serious felonies. But is that the best way to handle it?
"Hopefully we’ll get the message out to these kids," says Michael McAlexander, a prosecutor in Allen County, Ind., which includes Fort Wayne. A teenage boy there is facing felony obscenity charges for allegedly sending a photo of his private parts to several female classmates. Another boy was recently charged with child pornography in a similar case.
In some cases, the photos are sent to harass other teens or to get attention. Other times, they’re viewed as a high-tech way to flirt. Either way, law-enforcement officials want it to stop–even if it means threatening to add "sex offender" to a juvenile’s confidential record.…Read More
A Minneapolis mother and son who ran an online tutoring program face federal fraud and conspiracy charges after they allegedly collected more than $2 million in state tax refunds meant for low-income families, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Carolyn Louper-Morris, 62, and William John Morris Jr., 41, who run CyberStudy 101, were both charged in U.S. District Court with one count of mail/wire fraud conspiracy, seven counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and four counts of promotion money laundering. William Morris also was charged with one count of making and subscribing a false return. Their scheme revolved around the Minnesota Education Tax Credit, which gives low-income residents a tax credit for enrolling their K-12 children in supplemental educational programs, often resulting in tax refunds for the families. Louper-Morris and Morris told families that they wouldn’t have to pay for the program up front if they would agree to allow CyberStudy to file a tax return and claim the education tax credit. The clients who agreed also would receive a free computer and internet access for life, according to the indictment. In 2001 and 2002, CyberStudy filed tax returns on behalf of more than 1,800 people and received more than $2 million in tax credit payments from the Minnesota Department of Revenue. The computers that Louper-Morris and Morris gave to their clients mostly came from Kmart, which sold CyberStudy the computers for $529. CyberStudy gave out more than 2,000 computers worth more than $1 million, but never paid Kmart, according to the indictment……Read More
A federal judge has ruled that Burlington, Conn., school officials acted within their rights to discipline a student for an internet posting she wrote off school grounds, reports the Boston Globe. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Kravitz rejected Avery Doninger’s claim that administrators at Lewis B. Mills High School violated her rights of free speech and equal protection. She also alleged they inflicted emotional distress when they barred her from serving as class secretary because of the 2007 posting, which criticized the administrators for canceling a popular school activity. Kravitz’s ruling relied partly on the ambiguity over whether schools can regulate students’ expression on the internet. He noted in his ruling that times have changed since 1979, when a landmark student speech case set boundaries for schools regulating off-campus speech. Now, he wrote, students can send eMails to hundreds of classmates at a time or post entries that can be read instantly by students, teachers, and administrators. "Off-campus speech can become on-campus speech with the click of a mouse," Kravitz wrote. Kravitz cited previous rulings in his decision that school administrators were entitled to qualified immunity. That shields public officials from lawsuits for damages unless they violate clearly established rights that a reasonable official would have known. The officials could not reasonably be expected "to predict where the line between on- and off-campus speech will be drawn in this new digital era," he wrote. Doninger’s attorney, Jon Schoenhorn, plans to appeal the ruling and said the case may ultimately have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court……Read More