Classroom Technology

Student Misuse of School Laptops Forces District to Tighten Access

By Rhea R. Borja — January 30, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Alleged student computer hacking and pornographic Web site viewing in the Henrico County, Va., schools have led officials there to tighten security and access to students’ laptop computers. The computers were put in the youngsters’ hands as part of a much-heralded $18.6 million district initiative put in place this school year.

Starting Feb. 1, high school students in the Richmond suburb will turn in their Apple iBook laptops so school technicians can strip away class-disrupting functions such as file-sharing and instant messaging, and features that allow students to load games and music into the machines.

“That was a major use of our bandwidth—students passing songs and movies was eating up our network badly,” said Charles Stallard, the director of technology for the 42,000- student district.

Once the students get their laptops back two weeks later, they will be allowed to log on to only three “environments": school, home, and testing. If they don’t log into those environments, they will be locked out of certain computer functions, school officials said.

The district is also considering switching to a better Internet filter.

Embarrassing Incidents

The planned changes to the laptops stem partly from two troubling incidents.

Last fall, several dozen students were caught downloading and sharing pornographic Web sites. The high schoolers were suspended and their laptops were taken away.

In December, a 16-year-old student allegedly hacked into teachers’ and students’ iBooks, created an interim report card for himself, and passed pirating software to other students.

Another student may have been indirectly involved in that second incident, and both could face criminal charges. Local police are investigating the case to determine whether the students violated laws related to invasion of privacy and grade altering.

The student hacker, a J.R. Tucker High School student who dubbed himself “The Matrix,” was tracked down using technology- security software.

He has been suspended and faces expulsion, school officials said. The second student, also from Tucker High, was suspended as well.

Regular Upgrades

But those incidents aren’t the only reason the iBooks are being recalled, district officials say. “We’re also making them easier to use,” Mr. Stallard said.

The recall is one of two annual upgrades. Computer technicians are doubling the iBooks’ memory this time around, for example, and checking the laptops’ hardware.

The district has faced closer scrutiny and some criticism in the community because of the alleged misuse of the student computers, but Superintendent Mark A. Edwards defended the four- year laptop initiative, which will put 23,000 computers into the hands of middle and high school students.

“With 11,000 students having 24-7 access, the potential for [misuse] was certainly there,” Mr. Edwards said. “But we’ve seen consistent and productive use of the iBooks by the vast majority of students.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 2002 edition of Education Week as Student Misuse of School Laptops Forces District to Tighten Access

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology 4 Things to Know About AI's 'Murky' Ethics
Teachers and high school students see plenty of ethical gray areas and potential for long-term problems with AI.
4 min read
Highway directional sign for AI Artificial Intelligence
Matjaz Boncina/iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology AI Features Are Coming to iPhones and Macs. What It Means for Schools
AI writing assistants and a calculator that can solve complex equations are some of the features that could have implications for teachers.
3 min read
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on June 10, 2024.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on June 10, 2024.
Jeff Chiu/AP
Classroom Technology Opinion I Was an AI Optimist. Now I’m Worried It’s Making Teacher Burnout Worse
When ChatGPT first gained popularity, I thought it would help educators. We still have a long way to go to live up to that promise.
Priten Shah
4 min read
Image of a vision with AI and lots of sticky notes showing things "to do" before teachers can harness the power of it.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva