|Photo: Steve Wilson|
|BUSTED: A cybersecurity audit by the Mississippi State Auditor’s office found objectionable material or possible access to objectionable material on a survey of 150 computers from nine school districts.|
State Auditor Stacey Pickering’s office found 20 percent of the 150 laptop and desktop computers from nine school districts “showed evidence that that students were able to access explicit material on school-issued devices.” Worse yet, 86 percent of the computers surveyed from seven middle schools, and 82 percent of devices analyzed from 11 high schools, found objectionable material such as pornography.
The report said the districts’ filtering systems were ineffective at filtering inappropriate material, which is a violation of the Children’s Internet Protection Act. That federal law mandates that schools and libraries participating in the federally-supported E-rate program block and filter internet access that is obscene or harmful to minors.
Several school districts in the state — such as the Tupelo and Clinton school districts — issue laptops and tablets to students under the One to One Digital Learning Initiative for use on their studies, and allow students to access the internet, digital course materials and books. Some of these districts, including the Clarksdale Municipal School District, received federal grants to provide each student with a computer or tablet.
According to the report, the nine districts didn’t enforce internet safety and acceptable use policies. In particular, they didn’t ensure that technology protection measures — such as web filters — were operational and effective. Also, one of the districts didn’t maintain filtering for when students take their computers home.