Pa. student hackers quietly offered deals

The 13 were charged as juveniles with computer trespass and computer theft, both felonies, and could have faced a wide range of sanctions, including juvenile detention.

The Kutztown Area School District said it reported the students to police only after detentions, suspensions and other punishments failed to deter them from breaking school rules governing computer usage.

But the students, their families and other supporters said authorities overreacted, punishing the students not for bad but because they outsmarted the district’s technology workers.

The school had issued some 600 Apple iBook laptops to every student last fall. Kutztown is about 15 miles west of Allentown.

The charges allege the students breached security and downloaded forbidden programs, such as the iChat instant messenger. Some students also turned off a remote monitoring function that let administrators see what students were viewing on their screens — and used it to view administrators’ own computer screens.

What is going on here? Why were the computers not just taken away from the students they felt were using them irresponsibly?

Felonies? For embarrassing the school district? Get real.

And did you notice the part in the article where they state that the school put surveilence software on each and every computer. Remember how we, or at least I, got upset when they put RFID tags on kids in a ‘public’ school. Well, this is at least as dastardly as that.

Is this the kind of world we are to live in? One where kids are not disiplined properly for their conduct but charged with felonies? Like any common thief or murderer? Is this the future we see for our children … to start their life with felonies or the threat of felonies for hacking a root password or disabling surveilence software on a computer provided to them by the school?

Why weren’t the computers put back the way they were minus the surveilence software, with more reasonable restrictions (I don’t use IM but I know most kids can’t live without it)?

And we are talking about an iBook here, an Apple, a Mac!

They are safer generally speaking than PCs, are they not? If that wasn’t why they went with Macs, then why did they spend all that money on Macs in the first place?

And let me ask another question? Back in the day of real books, what was the punishment for defacing a book? If I remember correctly, if you defaced or lost a school book, you had to pay to replace it.

Now computers would simply need to have an ISO restored on it … no real damage there. Annoying maybe but not true destruction.

Now wouldn’t it make much more sense to send a note home stating the fee for restoring the system to the parents because they willfully changed what was issued to them, and added things that were not allowed on the school’s property?

That way the parents would have been in the loop right along and could have taken action at home as well. And the punishment would fit the ‘crime’ as it were.

EDIT: Or better yet. Have the system on a CD that is loaded fresh every day like many libraries do, and have the kids write their papers on a USB stick/pen drive.

Check out the links at the bottom of the following link: http://www.cutusabreak.org/ particularly the page on “What We Want.” They are not asking for anything that shouldn’t have been granted in the first place. IMHO.

Education on what would be the ‘appropriate’ response to tampering and what would happen (fee to restore the system) if the computer is tampered with. And they should have been more appropriate to the situation and should have been taught along with the ‘anti-bully’ curriculum. 😉

This is one of the most shoddy ‘public’ school administration stunts I have ever seen.

Yes, we are moving into a new era in schools … and the administration needs to learn to deal with it responsibly or go back to books.

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