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Principal Cancels Classes, Sues Over MySpace Prank

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the we've-all-got-priorities dept.

The Courts 520

Earnest writes "A prank MySpace page has led to a barrage of lawsuits and the misuse of school resources as the principal targeted by the pranksters attempted to find the perpetrators. In 2005, students at Hickory High School in Pennsylvania created a fake MySpace profile of principal Eric Trosch. As a result, the school's IT staff spent about 25 percent of his work time dealing with the issue and finding the culprits. That's not all. 'Trosch kept at it, even taking measures that led to the "cancellation of computer programming classes as well as usage of computers for research for class projects." Now the basic educational mission of the school was being compromised in order to keep students from visiting these profiles during school hours (students were still free to look at the profiles from home, of course).'"

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520 comments

Remember.. (5, Funny)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 7 years ago | (#18686553)

Remember the good ol' days when people would just burn effigies of those they didn't like?

Re:Remember.. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | about 7 years ago | (#18686579)

Or cover their house/car with bog roll.

Re:Remember.. (5, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#18686983)

Well...

We used to lift cars on top of 4 garbage bins (of the older metal cylindrical variety). Worked a treat. An old Skoda, Fiat or ZAZ weight under 600 kg so all it took was 10+ determined students and 20 seconds. So the teacher comes out and starts swearing not knowing what to do. The car is perched precariously 1m from the ground and there is no way to get it down without either negotiating with the students (and trusting them that they do not "unintentionally" drop it) or calling in heavy lifting equipment.

A funnier version of the same prank used to be done in a couple of schools which were located in old turn of the century buildings will proper 6+m wide main staircases and corridors. I know of at least 2 cases where the principal walked out of his office on the second floor to stumble into his skoda "parked" in the corridor.

And nowdays... Myspace... whimps...

Re:Remember.. (4, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | about 7 years ago | (#18687093)

We used to lift cars on top of 4 garbage bins

That's nothing. At my high school, we lifted the body of a 1970s era VW Beetle onto the roof of the one-story school! Someone also figured out a way to put steel-belted car tires over the top of the street lights in the parking lot. As a result, the tires were left surrounding the bottom of the street-light pole. Since the tires were steel-belted, you couldn't easily cut them. The school had to bring a crane in to lift the tires back up over the top of the pole.

And, I had to walk to school. Uphill. BOTH ways. Through snow so deep it covered the top of my head.

Re:Remember.. (1, Funny)

Tim Browse (9263) | about 7 years ago | (#18686973)

Yes.

I don't understand...they say you're not allowed to have pinatas that look like real people, but in Mexico, we do it all the time.

Re:Remember..when the principal was the adult? (5, Insightful)

teknosapien (1012209) | about 7 years ago | (#18687187)

Shouldn't he be the adult here. The one to take the higher ground. This almost sounds like a school yard fight between two "children". He's probably done more damage whining like a little bitch than if he just ignored it, rather than it being a localized issue hes taken it to the next step.

Why do they have so much power? (5, Insightful)

emilv (847905) | about 7 years ago | (#18686557)

I don't think that the principal should have so much power over the IT staff. IT should do his job: keeping the IT services running. He shouldnät waste his time doing private stuff for the principal.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (2)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | about 7 years ago | (#18686649)

IT should just do its job and block myspace.com, then open up only specific sub-URLs as teachers request it for approved coursework.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (4, Interesting)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | about 7 years ago | (#18686739)

I work in a school doing IT work in the UK and basically, It's not that simple. :)

Firstly any in-house IT is line managed by the senior management team in the school, this will include the Head Teacher (equivalent to a Principle in the US). So we absolutely have to do what we're asked to. Even if it's silly. Yes, there's PHB syndrome in local education. :)

Secondly, doing any sort of filtering is not easy. It requires hardware, software and skilled manpower to accomplish. Something underfunded schools are short of.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (3, Interesting)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | about 7 years ago | (#18686815)

Managed by the "school senior management team"?

What?

If I ever get employed in such a place they WILL fire me in under a week.
I will NEVER, EVER document what I did to a computer in any way more extended than "I had to buy this part. Here is a receipt for accounting and warranty." I will always keep each and every computer running and tweaked Just Right though.

And what is that if not a school dictator? He had the IT team spend time tracking a prank? Please PLEASE tell me that clinical signs of megalomania are an impeachment clause for school staff in the US.

As for filtering... anyone with half a brain can type "SSL tunnel" or something in google.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (1)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | about 7 years ago | (#18686893)

As for filtering... anyone with half a brain can type "SSL tunnel" or something in google.
Nope sorry, no dice there. The kids and I are way ahead of you. :) We only allow HTTPS to domains on a whitelist.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (1)

Sobrique (543255) | about 7 years ago | (#18687091)

Do you filter on protocol or port? Protocol filtering is an additional challenge, which again requires specialist skills/equipment, where port blocking, whilst easy, is about as easy to circumvent too.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (1)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | about 7 years ago | (#18687123)

The protocol. It's basically a Linux+squid proxy. All web traffic coming out of the school comes through this machine. Thus I get fine grained control over access on a user/machine basis.

I do have a layer 2 bridged firewall (again Linux) as well, so potentially I could do some port based firewalling there. But currently I haven't hit a situation where I need to. That box is more there for protecting the schools systems from worms running about on the WAN coming in from another school.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (1)

joto (134244) | about 7 years ago | (#18686931)

If I ever get employed in such a place they WILL fire me in under a week. I will NEVER, EVER document what I did to a computer in any way more extended than "I had to buy this part. Here is a receipt for accounting and warranty." I will always keep each and every computer running and tweaked Just Right though.

Ok, so you will probably do a better job in a private company were IT is vital to operations. No big deal. Different people do different jobs.

And what is that if not a school dictator?

The school principal. Same thing, different name. Just like company CEO. Or military general. Or whatever...

As for filtering... anyone with half a brain can type "SSL tunnel" or something in google.

And exactly how would you come up with those search-words? And how would being able to search google help you with actually filtering stuff? Come on, if the school IT-staff consists of one guy with minimal training (who spends half his time teaching), managing hordes of old unreliable hardware donated by companies not needing it anymore, then any task will quickly take 25% of the IT-staffs time. Besides, he already had a firewall, and had myspace blocked. He was trying to find a way to block whatever ways the students used to circumvent that. I doubt searching google for "SSL tunnel" would help much with that.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (3, Informative)

tehSpork (1000190) | about 7 years ago | (#18687215)

I can block myspace using the $50 Linksys router I use at home, it doesn't require much equipment or knowledge. As far as I can tell, myspace also does not have very many IPs and from what I have seen they are all located in the same range. Though flat out blocking 255 addresses to eliminate one site isn't generally a good idea, it gets the job done if you're in a hurry or are an unskilled IT administrator.

If you have access to a linux box, I like to use iptables to redirect myspace to something more interesting, such as KittenWar [kittenwar.com]. Yeah you will still get a few complaints, but the odds are that your average myspace user has spent the last 15 minutes or so looking at pictures of cats, giving them time to calm down a bit. :)

Disclaimer: I don't like censoring websites, but have been required to do so in the past. Sometimes it's necessary, most times it's just some person higher-up using "the children!" as an excuse for their holy crusade. Ain't life fun...

Re:Why do they have so much power? (5, Informative)

stuffman64 (208233) | about 7 years ago | (#18686787)

Well, I graduated high school 6 years ago, from the school right next to Hickory High. It's not a big area, and when we say "IT Department" we usually mean one guy who manages the computer labs and the classroom computers, and student assistants. There's a district supervisor who helps out with big issues (I wonder if it's still Scott... he was a cool guy). Most of the technical solutions such as firewalls, etc. are barebones to meet bugetary constraints, so I wouldn't imagine it hard to bypass. There's only so much you can do on a limited budget with limited resources. I know my IT guy also taught two classes (there were only 4 periods in a day at my school), so a lot of the work was left up to the "technology assistants" (i.e., me). Hickory was a little larger than my school, but I doubt they had significantly more resources than we did. I doubt that there was so much going on there that the IT guy was stressed doing this "extra" work. Hell, we spent most of the time just trying to think of stuff to do.

Re:Why do they have so much power? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 years ago | (#18687069)

>>Well, I graduated high school 6 years ago, from the school right next to Hickory High. It's not a big area, and when we say "IT Department" we usually mean one guy who manages the computer labs ...
---
From TFA : ...As a result, the school's IT staff spent about 25 percent of _HIS_ work time dealing with the issue...

Now why would students do that? (4, Funny)

FredDC (1048502) | about 7 years ago | (#18686559)

The principal seems to be such a nice guy! *rolls eyes*

He was probably just pissed because someone managed to create a page about him on myspace, while he had been desperately trying to do the same but couldn't fit his ego onto the page...

Re:Now why would students do that? (4, Funny)

richlv (778496) | about 7 years ago | (#18686569)

and, if normally some of the students would have seen the page, now whole world will see it. nicely done, eric !

Re:Now why would students do that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686959)

From TFA the link to the PDF version of his myspace profile: http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/Justinswebsite.pdf [aclupa.org]

And the best part(if you check out the PDF)...

again from TFA:

The [b]bigger[/b]--and more important--issue is where a principal's authority ends

Unless there was a [i]lot[/i] more to this the Principal seriously overreacted. Like bigly.

I propose a new term in his honor, "Dude clam down, don't pull a Trosch"

Too sensitive.... (5, Insightful)

MLease (652529) | about 7 years ago | (#18686563)

Ok, I can see why he wouldn't want students looking at it during school time, but I think the real reason he went after them was his own ego. Students do waste time at school, and adults waste time at work, but do you really think he would have pulled out all the stops if this page wasn't aimed at him?

-Mike

Re:Too sensitive.... (-1, Troll)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 years ago | (#18686581)

Duh! Obviously he's going after them because of his ego. He's the one who was attacked. Would you say that rape victims shouldn't fight back because they are only doing it out of ego? What about assault victims? Officer, I would normally press charges but the truth is, it's only my ego that's been hurt after I healed up, so you should let the nice Mr criminal go about his business.

Re:Too sensitive.... (4, Insightful)

FredDC (1048502) | about 7 years ago | (#18686611)

You're comparing rape to a myspace prank page? I think that when you are raped a little more than just your ego is bruised...

Re:Too sensitive.... (2, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 years ago | (#18686741)

No, I'm saying that ego _obviously_ played a part in this, but it's ridiculous to dismiss the story on the grounds of pure ego without the other facts. In fact, the tale is a lot more ugly than it looks.

Reading TFA reveals that he's been sued twice now by the parents, who even somehow got the ACLU involved (escalation #1). The first time he won against the parents, then they decided to sue again (escalation #2) at the federal level (escalation #3). So now he's countersuing them (escalation #4).

Re:Too sensitive.... (0)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | about 7 years ago | (#18686687)

If the principal thinks its OK to remove all the computers/computer classes, then by your logic, its OK for rape victims to try to ban sexual intercourse.

Re:Too sensitive.... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 years ago | (#18686793)

If the principal thinks its OK to remove all the computers/computer classes, then by your logic, its OK for rape victims to try to ban sexual intercourse.
For the kids who slandered him? What's he going to do instead, give them each a school laptop computer and ask them nicely to not slander all the other teachers too? You've got to be kidding.

Re:Too sensitive.... (1)

dhasenan (758719) | about 7 years ago | (#18687213)

Kids make fun of teachers and principals. This is nothing new. The fact that it's online may be new, but it's not surprising or suddenly more important. The sensible thing to do is to ignore it. It's not that difficult. And in a programming class, the instructor should be keeping the students on task anyway, so there's no reason to eliminate the class.

Re:Too sensitive.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#18686727)

Do you want to compare the hurt ego of that principal, the victim of a prank of kids (seriously, if you're an adult and are not above being pranked by kids...), with the traumatic experience a victim of rape has to go through?

Are you serious?

Re:Too sensitive.... (0, Offtopic)

AIFEX (1036394) | about 7 years ago | (#18686861)

While my boss might disagree, I wouldn't call reading Slashdot at work time wasting :P

Re:Too sensitive.... (1)

hey! (33014) | about 7 years ago | (#18686921)

Everybody's got an ego. It's easy to dismiss the impact of something like this if its not aimed at you. You're probably going to make better decisions about injuries to other people than injuries to yourself, which is why we normally try people with an impartial jury and judge rather than let the victims play those roles.

In such cases, schools probably should have some independent discipline procedure to relieve the principal.

Overreaction is probably worse than underreaction. Some kids are going to act like idiots; lets not teach them to be self-righteous idiots.

Re:Too sensitive.... (1)

neochubbz (937091) | about 7 years ago | (#18687167)

I don't see why they just didn't have Myspace blocked. They do at my high school. I personally don't use it ( more of a facebook guy myself), but, be honest, there is no educational benefit to having access to Myspace at school. -Chubbz

Closet freak? (3, Insightful)

Belakiss (1046318) | about 7 years ago | (#18686567)

How insecure does this guy have to be to sue students? Can't he just try to suspend them for a few days or make them clean the school toilets with tooth brushes? I bet he sucks his thumb at night too.

here's an idea (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686587)

just block myspace. tada! problem solved

Re:Closet freak? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 7 years ago | (#18686835)

Can't he just try to suspend them for a few days or make them clean the school toilets with tooth brushes?
If I were him, I'd make them to that. Albeit with their own toothbrushes, and then make sure that they had to use them to brush their teeth afterwards, and that everyone knew about it. Ha ha :-)

This is not about MySpace. (5, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | about 7 years ago | (#18686583)

I don't see the relevance of it being a MySpace profile. When I was at school (12 years ago) MySpace didn't exist and yet the head teacher still had cause to gather all the pupils together once or twice to try to ascertain the culprits behind a fake, and horribly libelous, newsletter detailing the fictious activities of some of the teaching staff. It was produced by some malicious students and distributed around the classrooms. Exactly the same thing, just in a less connected world.

This issue is about the discipline of students, dealing with a prank in an appropriate manner, and ultimately finding the reason why some people find it funny to be disrespectful to someone (hopefully) dedicated to improving their future. If MySpace, or even the internet itself, vanished overnight it'd still happen as much as it does now.

Re:This is not about MySpace. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686613)

"This issue is about the discipline of students, dealing with a prank in an appropriate manner, and ultimately finding the reason why some people find it funny to be disrespectful to someone (hopefully) dedicated to improving their future."

Are you kidding me?

People find it funny to be disrespectful to people in power. Why? Because frequently those people use that power badly. They earn that disrespect.

c.f. "President of the United States."

Re:This is not about MySpace. (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 years ago | (#18686833)

"People find it funny to be disrespectful to people in power."

Yeah but it takes a "court jester" to pull it off. The real problem (as others have pointed out) would seem to be that the entire staff were seemingly unaware they could selectively block prank sites. The egomaniac should be sacked for gross incompetence and just plain childish behaviour. The rest of the staff should be enrolled in basic computer classes, not left in charge of running them.

Sure the little brats will see it as a victory, right up until they get a new headmaster and loose access to myspace on the same day.

Re:This is not about MySpace. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686945)

The egomaniac should be sacked for gross incompetence and just plain childish behaviour.

I love watching people throw around the word "incompetence," because usually what it comes down to is this: "I know about this one particular field, so if someone else doesn't know anything about it, they're incompetent." What they fail to realize is that they themselves are considered "incompetent" in most areas by their very own standards.

Was this guy wrong in doing what he did? Absolutely. I'll agree with you on the "childish behaviour" part, but to say that he was incompetent based on the handling of this one incident just shows where your own maturity level lies.

Re:This is not about MySpace. (1)

lattyware (934246) | about 7 years ago | (#18686985)

You are missing something, he said they needed to go and learn to do it to become competent. That was the point. Yes, I would be incompetent if I went and did work in another field - so I would expect training on how to do it.

Re:This is not about MySpace. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18687063)

Yes, but he's also saying the principal should be fired for "gross incompetence" before everyone is even sent to the class and given the opportunity to become competent.

After many years of observing how people use the word incompetence, I've noticed that the ones who use it frequently tend to judge others based on their own knowledge-base, as opposed to considering the area of knowledge of the one being judged. It almost seems like it's used as a method of self-affirmation more than anything.</sociological rant>

Re:This is not about MySpace. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686663)

Honestly, most of the authority figures I had in school were petty tyrants who flunked out of whatever programs they were in to college to go to the School of Teaching. They were insecure about themselves but felt that it was OK to make life miserable for the students who were required to go through the system.

The future I built for myself was because of myself and accomplished in spite of the roadblocks that these sort of people put up for me, not because of them.

Re:This is not about MySpace. (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 7 years ago | (#18687141)

I must be one of the lucky people that had decent administrators in school. The principal I had for most of elementary school stood in the hallway greeting students every morning, and he knew all 600 students by name. It was pretty devastating to the whole school when he died. The administration in junior high school was pretty bad, but that's true of junior high school in general. The (female) principal my first year of high school was referred to as "General", but the one that replaced her was good.

Re:This is not about MySpace. (1)

AIFEX (1036394) | about 7 years ago | (#18686901)

Probably the same relevance seemingly apparent when news readers refer to the "muslim teacher" or the "black teenager". *sighs at the world*

I beg the difference (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 7 years ago | (#18687001)

The potential and real audience is much larger nowadays, with usage of digital copying, theoretically and practically.

Litigation, Litigation, Litigation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686599)

Why does every little problem now have to be solved by the court? Common sense, compromise (or in the case of kids, discipline by parents and teachers) used to solve petty things like this.

Re:Litigation, Litigation, Litigation (1)

oracle128 (899787) | about 7 years ago | (#18686753)

Problem is, the principal can't "discipline" them, because it's now called child abuse. And the parents probably don't even know what MySpace is. So the kids end up getting away scot-free, and grow up to become the next wave of "identity theft and slander are my freedom of speech, fascist pigs!" bloggers.

Re:Litigation, Litigation, Litigation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#18686755)

2 reasons: Money and intimidation.

The obvious one is to press damages. Why bother working if you can get a ton more money by suing someone? I know people who call someone who had a horrible accident "lucky" because now they might be down a leg, but boy, are they rich now!

And intimidation. Shut up or I drag you to court. People still have it in their mind that someone who's on the defendant's chair has to be at least a little bit guilty, or he wouldn't be there. Well, in a criminal court that might be a little bit true (if there is no evidence at all, the state attorney would rarely go through the wasteful procedure of a trial), but in civil court, I could sue you, on no base at all. Because you're an Anonymous Coward, that's all. Will it get thrown out? Of course. But you were dragged to court, and you had to defend yourself, so there must've been some kinda reason why you were there...

Re:Litigation, Litigation, Litigation (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 years ago | (#18686849)

RTFA before posting crap. This is the 3rd lawsuit, first he was sued by the parents and won, then the parents sued him a second time which is not over yet, now he's suing them back.

Re:Litigation, Litigation, Litigation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#18687067)

Actually I thought your question was aiming at the general principle and the general rise in court trials, not focused on this one.

Re:Litigation, Litigation, Litigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18687211)

Why does every little problem now have to be solved by the court?

Indoctrination. We have been contitioned to run to government at the slightest hint of a problem, rather than taking personal responsibility. How else do you expect the power elite to continue to expand their market share? The more laws, the more business for the law.

Imagine if people actually took the responsibility to solve conflicts by themselves, where possible -- what's in that for government?

Something doo economics. Anyone? Anyone? (5, Insightful)

marto (110299) | about 7 years ago | (#18686609)

"cancellation of computer programming classes as well as usage of computers for research for class projects."

Nice to see that this guy holds the student's education as a high priority. Who needs to be able to search the web for research purposes or to lean how to code?

Re:Something doo economics. Anyone? Anyone? (2, Funny)

repvik (96666) | about 7 years ago | (#18686647)

Your comment, combined with the nugget in the bottom right corner got me laughing me ass off.
Screenshot [kynisk.com]

Re:Something doo economics. Anyone? Anyone? (1)

FredDC (1048502) | about 7 years ago | (#18686733)

Who needs to be able to search the web for research purposes or to lean how to code

Exactly! You could only use the knowledge you would gain for evil purposes anyway, like creating myspace.com!

Re:Something doo economics. Anyone? Anyone? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 years ago | (#18687051)

I Remember back in 1995 the computer programming class got allowed to use the new computers in the lab. 486s with SVGA display vs. TRS 80s Shortly after we were allowed to use the lab to do our class work we got kicked out and back to the TRS80s because someone drew and printed a MS Paint Mouse sketch of a penis. They figured only us computer programming people were only able to do that so they tossed us back in the class where only the top students shared a computer with a VGA display and the second top students had a Tandy with CGA Display. good times.

And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt... (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | about 7 years ago | (#18686625)

...would have blocked *.myspace.com at the firewall level, if their nazi content filter didn't already do it for them.

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (2, Interesting)

Rob_Warwick (789939) | about 7 years ago | (#18686681)

FTFA:

Trosch and the school's IT person attempted to block MySpace, but students were "backdooring a fire wall and getting into" it anyway.
I wonder if students were actually comprimising their firewall, or if they were just using a proxy or something like that.

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (2, Interesting)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#18686763)

IT staff at schools are notoriously bad. I worked a while as a "computer" teacher (and as such had no control over the IT infrastructure) Their "fancy" squid filter did keyword filtering in the URLs + blocking of certain domain names. So, stuff with "game", "sex", whatever was blocked as was stuff like myspace.

The workaround? Simple: use the IP address directly: immediate pass. No, I didn't tell the IT staff that they should fix it. I did tell my students how to get around it, hoping that the IT staff would notice it in the logs and fix the damned thing. In the 1.5 years I was there, nobody fixed that flaw.

Do not expect good IT staff at schools...

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (1)

JuanCarlosII (1086993) | about 7 years ago | (#18686821)

IT being one of the most obvious instances of that old mantra, "Those who can do. Those who can't teach."

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (0, Offtopic)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | about 7 years ago | (#18686957)

Hey, I'm an school IT tech. I can't be that useless if I'm posting on slashdot!

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686769)

Bess has pretty much every CGI proxy blocked. Pretty much only port 80 outbound is allowed through at my school. So you've got the have some way connect to your proxy, and change IE settings which can't be changed. You could run firefox from a USB key so that you can configure it to connect to a proxy server over an ssh tunnel, but then the nazis who run the computer lab would catch you using "unauthorized software". It's all about the competence of the people who run the school and it's network.

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | about 7 years ago | (#18686773)

Seems like layman's speak for using a proxy, yes.

I won't deny that the firewall at my work has plenty of ways around it. That's not the point - above the filtering that our ISP does (which goes well beyond CIPA minimums - sometimes to levels where it actively hinders learning, due to overfiltering - and yes, we've tried to get them to unblock the relevant categories - and no, we can't switch ISPs,) we block specific sites that we don't want students to access manually.

If students do get around the firewalls, that specific student gets their account disabled. (Same goes for sharing accounts.)

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about 7 years ago | (#18687023)

We had a system going at my school when I was going through

For every flaw I found in the firewall/security, I scored $5. For every major flaw (I managed to redirect my report to a different print spooler for example) I scored $10. The IT guy there paid out of his own pocket. Since I left (and the 3 kids with me - I'm not that good at these things!) I have heard of only ONE instance where this guy had to pay up, and that was because he screwed a configuration setting.

For us, all it took was a bit of incentive (I've heard tell of this being implemented with various priveledges such as a multiplayer Quake session during a class) and the IT guy willing to take the time rather than disabling the accounts.

Of course, there are other issues here... but before all this FIRE THE HEAD! Friend of mine failed his senior year because the IT at his school screwed up and they blamed it on him, so he lost all PC access while at school. That's pretty unfair and downright stupid...

Re:And any K-12 school IT staff worth their salt.. (4, Interesting)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | about 7 years ago | (#18686801)

I work in a UK school doing IT support so I have a front line view of what happens.

At a county level we have a fitler that works on basic URL blocking. It's called 'SmartFilter' and it's definately not very 'Smart'. Pupils can easily evade this filter by using CGI:Proxy [jmarshall.com], PHPProxy [sourceforge.net], Google Translate or Google Cache for example. Basically as long as the url doesn't match something in it's blacklist, it gets through.

Therefore, at a school level I have implmented a Linux/Squid based proxy with a content filter called DansGuardian [dansguardian.org]. It's a lot more intelligent about filtering and works along the same lines as antispam filters. As well as domain/url blocking it allows grey listing based on the content of the web pages being pulled through it. You assign words or phrases a numerical value and if the page hits a certain score then it's blocked. As the filter is no longer simply relying on the domains/urls this solves the proxy problem.

Yes, some stuff will always get through, I think the above solution is about as good as it gets currently.

Damaging *his* earning potential ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686641)

I read the link, and something catched my eye :

".. is suing the students involved in the 2005 caper, arguing that his reputation was damaged and his earning potential was affected."

Funny that a person who now sues for it did not hesitate to deny whole classes access to computers they needed for their education (thereby lessening their "earning potential") and putting the culprit into an "alternative program" for no reason but for a punishment (where such a program is surely lessening the persons "earning potential")

Re:Damaging *his* earning potential ? (3, Insightful)

DilbertLand (863654) | about 7 years ago | (#18686721)

If the principal's earning potential was affected, it was due solely to how he handeled the situation. I didn't know you could sue someone for putting you in the position to demonstrate your incompetence to your superiors...

Come on.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686651)

What a pussy... Can't take some dirty jokes from a bunch of teenagers.

suing his students? (4, Insightful)

nietsch (112711) | about 7 years ago | (#18686657)

Now Trosch, who has since moved schools within the district, is suing the students involved in the 2005 caper, arguing that his reputation was damaged and his earning potential was affected.

Ii wonder if he is going to sue himself next, as he was the one that created the circumstances for this damage. It was not the students actions (some childish prank that was rather unremarkable) but his own ego that led to the damage to his 'earning potential'. Maybe he didn't understand the meaning of the word earn: his egotrip earned him ridicule, which is a just reward for him /methinks.

Stupidity is not an excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686669)

The freedom of speech does not legitimize defamation. Of course the students must face the consequences. MySpace is not some special zone where laws do not apply.

Little git (0, Flamebait)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | about 7 years ago | (#18686683)

This student, Justin Layshock, then filed suit against the school district. He admitted that what he'd done was wrong and stupid but argued that the profile had been created from home and that the school had no right to jeopardize his academic future by placing him in an alternative program for something he'd done after hours.
So he posts knowingly fake allegations that can (and probably will) ruin someone's career, and then he cringes because he's put on report? I think he got off lightly.

He should be thankful he wasn't expelled. I don't know if the relevant jusrisdiction has criminal libel - if not that's another thing the little jackass should be grateful for. Finally, what if some vigilante had acted on this false information?

Re:Little git (1, Insightful)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | about 7 years ago | (#18686709)

The school has no right to subvert the legitimate authority of the justice system for matters outside the school house. If the principal feels that the myspace page rises to the level of libel, then he should take it to a court with competent jurisdiction.

ever heard of parody? (2, Interesting)

nietsch (112711) | about 7 years ago | (#18686841)

If you add so many absurd things to a profile, it should be obvious to anybody that it was a parody. I'll grant you it was not very tastefull from what I read about it, but a civilized democracy does allow these things (doubt if that includes the US). He could have taken it as a sign that he needs to brush up his image with the students instead of riding his 12foot dick to school everyday. (s/foot/cm/g).

Re:ever heard of parody? (1)

gkhan1 (886823) | about 7 years ago | (#18686885)

I'll grant you it was not very tastefull from what I read about it, but a civilized democracy does allow these things (doubt if that includes the US).
It most certainly does [wikipedia.org]

Re:ever heard of parody? (1)

nietsch (112711) | about 7 years ago | (#18686989)

While legally it may be permitted, I still doubt if the US is that civilized democracy I referred to. You may notice that the case you linked to involved at least one reasonably rich entity. Is it still justice for the people if you need very deep pockets to have your rights acknowledged?

Re:Little git (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 years ago | (#18686977)

So he posts knowingly fake allegations that can (and probably will) ruin someone's career, and then he cringes because he's put on report? I think he got off lightly. He should be thankful he wasn't expelled. I don't know if the relevant jusrisdiction has criminal libel - if not that's another thing the little jackass should be grateful for. Finally, what if some vigilante had acted on this false information?

Who modded this "Troll". Note the extreme hyperbole. The guy's being sarcastic.

Can you spell M O R O N (1)

l0rd (52169) | about 7 years ago | (#18686745)

This sounds more like some low production 80s high school comedy (in an alternate universe where myspace exists) than real life. How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems to happen in the States (incidents that I know of anyway). Any sane person wouldn't give two shits about this and get on with his/her life.

How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems to h (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#18686811)

appen in states"

you would be surprised at the sort of shit happening in turkey.

Re:How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems t (1)

l0rd (52169) | about 7 years ago | (#18686847)

Weird shit happens all over the world. But i specifically mean teachers going loco and suing their students when childish pranks like this are pulled. I mean, seriously. We were all kids once. Everyone has pulled prank in their time. Get a life.

Re:How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems t (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 years ago | (#18686873)

Did you read TFA? There are 3 suits, two earlier ones by the parents against him (one they lost, the second one is pending) and now he's suing the kids back. America: where there's one lawsuit, there are probably two more if you look closely :)

Re:How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems t (1)

l0rd (52169) | about 7 years ago | (#18686917)

That something like this develops into a lawsuit is just plain sad. The worst thing is that crap like this ties up the court system unneededly. it's just plain pathetic if you think about it.

Re:How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems t (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 7 years ago | (#18686909)

you would be surprised at the sort of shit happening in turkey.
Have you ever been in a... in a Turkish prison?

Re:How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems t (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#18686999)

turkish prisons are not as horrible as popular culture believes. in fact they are generally otherwise. albeit, the usual inmate-hierarchy persists. comforts are generally similar to a upper-poor class household, television, radio, beds and etc.

even many political prisoners, they are able to continue their works, writing a book, even unfortunately participating in more outlawed terrorist organization furthering, like pkk situation.

prisons where terrorist/radical political prisoners are kept, are an entirely different matter.

The IT Staff At Some Schools... (1)

KeyThing (997755) | about 7 years ago | (#18686843)

I've visited some Elementary and High Schools in my area. I personally know some of the people who work in the IT department of these schools. Most of them have their A+ and N+ certs and that's about it. The majority of the ones I've seen or had to deal with are in over their heads.

This principal provided the inept IT staff with the perfect reason for not getting to Mrs. Smith's computer problem in her classroom.

If this principal is having the IT department work on such tasks during school hours, I'm sure he didn't get his raises based on a plethora of other reasons.

And the IT Staffers.... well, one could argue they were "following orders"... but even so, people should know not to follow orders when those orders conflict with their primary job duties as described by their contracts.

*sigh*

Better approach (3, Insightful)

gedeco (696368) | about 7 years ago | (#18686871)

principal targeted by the pranksters attempted to find the perpetrators

It would be wiser to monitor the school network to identify the people who where capable to modify the specific webpage. You could make the phrank die out silently, or convert the page to a more friendly nature.

The principal, he has diserved this. Being so immature.

Political Satire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18686911)

See http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/US SC_CR_0485_0046_ZS.html [cornell.edu] Hustler Magazine (Larry Flint) vs Falwell

Hustler ran an add for beer "endorsed" by Falwell with a description of his first time being with his own mother in an outhouse. He was sued by Falwell in the supreme court and won because political satire falls within the first amendment. If we don't support freedom of speech and publication at what point do we draw the line with what is too far to say? Will Leno start getting sued because of what he says in his monologue?

I got bored with TFA... (2)

Bob54321 (911744) | about 7 years ago | (#18686933)

Can someone tell me if this is really news from 2005... or has something important actually happened?

Man who really gives a crap? (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 7 years ago | (#18686951)

There are all kinds of bad things posted about me on the web. Who cares?

People should be abllowed to post anything they want on the Internet. It is not the same as other printed media.

IMO if it isn't markedly obvious that the source is a cooperation or employed by someone, then everything on the Internet should be assumed to be hearsay and thus immune from libel. You know "freedom of speech" and all???

Seriously - what is the difference between a blog posting and sticking a flyter on a telephone pole? Would you give one more credibility than another? If so - WHY?!?!

People need to be made aware than anyone can, and will, make a face MySpace / Facebook / Whatever claiming to be you. That's Just the plain truth. If you have a problem with that then unplug your PC and go back to your telegraph. I have a metric crapload of derogatory things on me out on the web in various locations. Did I go sue every one of them? Of course not. Cause I have a backbone.

There are KIDS. It doesn't matter if the site is taken down or not cause they're making fun of the principal and teachers 24/7 behind their backs anyways, cause it's the fun thing to do. If this guy is really that sensitive to what a 12 year old thinks about him he is in the wrong job.

Re:Man who really gives a crap? (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | about 7 years ago | (#18687033)

There are all kinds of bad things posted about me on the web. Who cares?

Apparently the ones that made the Myspace page cares. There is an assumption in most of the posts that the principal was the villian and the ones that made the post were justified. At the very least it has been a major distraction and caused problems with classes and affected computer access. In theory they are there to learn not to prank. The computer classes can potentially get them work but the won't. It may earn them some points with their friends but if they are expelled it could affect their future. I'm not taking either side it's just odd that the fact they used a computer seems to give them a pass. Say the Principal posted disparaging comments about the same students? Maybe they were constantly disrupting classes and he decided to take a little revenge. Would he be in the wrong?

Re:Man who really gives a crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18687089)

You have a point. Especially about the principal's thin skin.

On the other hand, why would anyone want to have a job where they have to constantly put up with this kind of shit?

Not only would I not want to work in that environment, but I don't know how teachers and staff can do a good job of providing an education when this type of thing is taking place - and this is probably quite tame considering the fact that so many schools now have assigned police officers.

If the U.S. was serious about education, parents would not allow this type of shit to continue - not because what these kids did was so terrible, but because schools have a job to do and this is preventing them from doing it.

I can't imagine why anyone goes into k-12 education.

i'd be pissed too (0, Flamebait)

Adult film producer (866485) | about 7 years ago | (#18686967)

been to myspace lately? That place is a fucking wasteland of annoying webpages that push shit onto the viewer, it's a throwback to the 90's and when geocities was in it's heyday, except now it's 10x more annoying... god damn pages with mp3's, flash ads, animated background images, "this person has 15,234 friends, and here is an image of every fucking one of them.." and then comments from those "friends" that make no sense, sometimes they're spam... sometimes jackasses post a million images just to fuck with with your browser memory limit... and then there are contests about who has the most "friends" on myspace.. fuck that, nobody has friends or "buddies" on myspace.. just middle-aged men that are dumb enough to add all these teenage girls to their myspace friends list and jerk off to the private images that 15,234 friends have access to while listening to a duran duran "girls on film" mp3 that they didn't choose to play, it was fucking forced on them by myspace. I am calling on all blackhats to do their part and take that steaming pile of shit off the internet... take it down boys, you have a go.

The Nudist Headmaster (2)

Abuzar (732558) | about 7 years ago | (#18687005)

School principals and many teachers have an overbloated ego and sense of authority. It is interesting to see how they react when this sense of superiority is undermined, usually through criticism.

I know this is a little out of context, but it brought up memories about this retired school principal I used to know. We were both board members of a nudist group.

At one meeting I criticized his ability to ... oh, I forget what it was, but something to do with retention of diversity, age barrier, and adopting to new ideas. Anyhow, he took it really personally that a 26-year-old (youngest board member) was criticizing him. He went on a rant about how in all of his years as a teacher/principal none of his students ever dared disrespect and criticize him.

Well then, I didn't particularly think that discouraging criticism was a good thing for a teacher to do, so I continued to challenge him. Pretty soon he was raving mad. Let me tell you, I don't think he understood how funny it is to see a balding old raving mad nudist school principal make a fool of himself at a naked board meeting.

How do I ever get involved with these things!! By the way, can you believe that this guy had a lot of difficulty using computers? I mean, it was a huge success for him to learn how to use his email! I guess they're shelling out the school principal job to just about anyone these days.

I'm not implying that this other school principal here is also a nudist. I'm just thinking about how his students perceive him. There's obviously a reason why they don't respect him.

Those who can't do, teach.

hypocrites R us (2, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 7 years ago | (#18687017)

I bet there are 100 kids at his school, whose actual myspace pages are being "bullied", and yet he wants to put all this effort into stopping a fake page about himself. Get a grip, and help the student victims of harassment!

Primary goals (1)

Sj0 (472011) | about 7 years ago | (#18687021)

Our primary goal is the education of our children. Well, our PRIMARY goal is making sure we don't get made fun of by the children. Also, our primary goal is making sure we keep guns and knives away from our children. Actually, our PRIMARY goal is making sure the children aren't having 'freaky' sex. Well, our PRIMARY goal is to collect a paycheque on the taxpayers kids dime.

Ok, so our primary goals are:

Collecting a paycheque on the taxpayers dime
Making sure we don't make fun of by the children
Making sure the children aren't having 'freaky' sex
Keeping guns and knives away from our children

And our secondary goal would be the education of our children. Well....Your children. I hate children. I hate children.

Re:Primary goals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18687125)

Actually, schools, homosexual groups and the ACLU are desperately trying to make sure kids have freaky sex.

saving face (1)

louzerr (97449) | about 7 years ago | (#18687065)

It's too bad the Principal, and thereby the School Board, feels it's more important to save face than to educate people's children.

I do think our schools are underfunded, but a lot of money is being wasted on "staff" who simply have too many other agendas than teaching.

Most middle school "teachers" will tell you they're really only baby-sitting.

This principal obviously made a bad career move. He should have gone to Regents ... then he could be Federal Attorney instead of dealing with a bunch of unruly kids.

wtf Ars Techna - a "prank" ? (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | about 7 years ago | (#18687179)

A prank is gluing a pencil to a table, putting a transgendered doper alcoholic label on someone is slander.
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