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K(l)utztown

Taking the 'l' out was a good move. Now it's time to put it back in.


Kutztown (pronounced 'kootztown' with a long German 'u') is in Pennsylvania USA. It's a small place. Odds are everybody knows everybody, drinks tea with everybody, goes to picnics with everybody. Rural bliss.

From the K(l)utztown Borough blurb.

Kutztown is halfway between the cities of Allentown and Reading, both which have populations of over 100,000. They both boast noted hospitals, theaters, extensive shopping and an exciting nightlife - and are only 16 miles away. New York and Philadelphia are also easily accessible. Center City Philadelphia can be reached by car in 1.5 hours and New York, though easily accessible by car as well, can be reached in 2.5 hours by Kutztown's Bieber Bus Company's one-stop express. We are 1.5 hours from the Poconos, very close to ski resorts, and 12 miles from the Appalachian Trail for hiking buffs.

All the strong points mentioned, combined with the familiarity and friendly atmosphere of a small town, make Kutztown an ideal community.

Rural bliss. Until a few k(l)utzes came and ruined it.


The 600 high school kids in K(t)utztown were given Apple iBooks as part of a so called 'One to One Computer Initiative'. The programme wasn't so much of a gift as a new requirement: students were to carry and use their iBooks everywhere in order to participate in their curriculum.

Cool. Then came the school board meeting a year ago. Welcome back to K(l)utztown.

The School Board Meeting

At a school board meeting in K(l)utztown a year ago the voices of opponents to the computer initiative were heard. These voices said the school administration would fail in being able to control student access to 'inappropriate Internet sites'. [Read 'porn'. Ed.]

The school administration on their part promised they had the 'technology' and would be 'competent and capable' of 'protecting' students from these 'dangers'.

Rollout

The school hired a new 'IT director' and then rolled out a 'master setup' for the laptops. The setup was to allow the computer department access to the laptops for monitoring purposes and was also to filter access to the school network and the Internet beyond.

The setup was protected by an admin password. Students were not given the admin password.

Where's the Password?

To make sure no one who should have the password ever forgot it, the geniuses in K(l)utztown printed the password - '50trexler', the street address of the school - on the back of each laptop.

As students quickly came upon the obvious, they began accessing the network and the Internet without prior authorisation. The computer department monitored these 'infractions' and several students were 'reprimanded'.

The reprimanded students were required to stay after school in 'detention' but even there were required by the school computer initiative to have their laptops with them - so they just kept on breaking through and surfing online.

Change the Password!

Unfortunately the school programme did not allow confiscation of the laptops. Some students who tired of being caught and reprimanded all the time actually tried to return their laptops to the school but were forced to take them back again.

Finally the students figured out how to turn off the software used by the computer department to monitor their activities.

Computer geniuses again to the rescue: just change the password and this time everything will be fine. But the students understood the password had to be on their computers somewhere - all they needed was a password attack program to get it.

Heads Will Roll

By now the school administration were looking for a scapegoat. Their programme was in a shambles, their 'computer geniuses' made to look fools by a bunch of high school kids.

The police department of Kutztown Borough was contacted, as was the District Attorney. Students were brought in for questioning. The school had to proceed carefully: if too much information leaked out, the children of the school's teachers and administrators might be implicated.

Records were selectively prepared and provided to the police department and with no police investigation whatsoever charges were filed with the juvenile court.

On 31 May 2005 the parents of thirteen students were notified by mail.

Dear Parent,

On May 2, 2005, I was contacted by the Kutztown High School staff and requested to investigate, and if possible prosecute, the misuse and altering of programming on the laptop computers issued by the school in the One-to-One Laptop Initiative. Records were provided from the laptops, and 13 students were identified as having changed the programming on the laptops allowing greater access to the school's Internet and intranet resources in violation of the school's permitted use, and as a result a violation of PA crimes code section 7615 titled 'computer trespass'. I also consulted with the Berks County District Attorney's office, and it was recommended that the above stated charge be filed.

I am writing you because your child is one of the 13 students who altered programming on the laptop, and a Juvenile Petition charging Computer Trespass has been filed. When any person age 14 or greater is charged with a crime, they must present themselves in a timely manner to the arresting police department for the purposes of fingerprinting and identification. I am requesting that you contact the Kutztown Borough Police Department, Det Robert Gately, or Ofc Walk Skavinsky at 610 683 3545 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday to, accomplish this.

Walter J Skavinsky
Crime Prevention Officer
Kutztown Borough Police Department

Proudly serving our community since 1924

The parents of the 13 arrested students were outraged: at no time had the school contacted them in the matter.

Cut Us a Break

The arrested students, their parents, and a number of notables in the area have joined forces to help out. The provider CSIS are sponsoring their web site. And so forth.

Wander on over, have a look around, and leave a comment for the powers that be to read.

They're so deep in the shite right now the only thing that will save them is getting out. And then maybe they can take the 'l' back out of the name of their town.

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