Diocese: Inappropriate images shown to class due to computer virus

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The Diocese of Charleston says a computer virus caused inappropriate images to appear on a SMART Board in a sixth-grade classroom at a Mount Pleasant Catholic school.

According to church officials, on Feb. 8, the principal of the Christ Our King-Stella Maris Catholic school received information of naked women appearing on a SMART Board screen. An independent investigator found that the images were popping up on the screen because of a number of computer viruses that had made the school's server unsecured.

Although the teacher of the class was not at fault regarding the display of the images, officials say she was reprimanded and placed on administrative leave following a comment she made when one of the images appeared during class.

A church document details the incident where a pop-up picture of Anna Nicole Smith had appeared on the SMART Board which depicted Smith with a "low-cut top exposing cleavage."

According to church officials, the teacher then told her students, "Don't tell your parents or I'll get fired."

The teacher told officials that she was joking when she made the comment. Officials placed the teacher on administrative leave and has since been reinstated.

The principal of the school said she was first notified of the incidents on Feb. 8. The vice principal told her that a group of sixth grade students came to his office and said that the science teacher had on more than one occasion, allowed pictures of naked women to appear on their SMART Board screen after science videos were shown in class.

A second group of students were then interviewed by the principal. That group made similar allegations of "naked figures" appearing on the SMART Board. According to church officials, the students said that they were "afraid of the teacher" since she reportedly told them not to tell their parents because she would be fired.

School officials then examined all three computers in the teacher's classroom and did not find evidence to confirm the students allegations.

When school officials spoke to the teacher, the teacher did confirm that "unintended" images of women who were "thinly clothed" did appear on more than one occasion in her class while she was presenting a video from a "respected science-oriented website."

The teacher said she jokingly told the class,"Don't tell your parents or I'll get fired."

The principal then reprimanded the teacher and put her on administrative leave due to the comment she made to her students.

A computer forensic examiner was then called to investigate the incidents. The investigator reported to the school that a number of viruses were on the class desktop computer which made the safety filter on the school's server unsecured.

Officials with the school released the following statement:

"Based on the results of a comprehensive examination of the laptop, desktop, iPad and SMART Board as well as the school's server and network, the investigation unequivocally concludes that the images allegedly displayed on her SMART Board on more than one occasion were not a result of negligent or intentional conduct by the teacher. If there were any inappropriate pop-ups presented, it was beyond the control of the teacher to prevent the display and they did not exist long enough to be captured by the computer's hard drive."

The teacher was reinstated on Wednesday and the school said it will address the unsecured server issue in the near future.

Officials said that the school's parents were given advance notice that the teacher would be reinstated and counseling was made available to the students.

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