Parent angry after third-grader ends up in adult chat room on district-issued device


JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. – A parent in the Shawnee Mission school district questions the district’s screening program on devices given to students.

Traci Higbee said her third-year son Logan sort of ended up in an adult chat room on her district-issued device while doing virtual learning last week.

“I was horrified, you know rape should be legal and how do you kill yourself and I think oh no that’s a really bad thing,” Higbee said.

Higbee said her son was in a virtual learning module at Next Level Martial Arts.

Head instructor Matt McDaniel said he noticed the boy was on another adult site with inappropriate drawings.

“The photos were pretty inappropriate, there were ladies in bikinis drawing out there, fishnet stockings, kind of stuff,” McDaniel said. “There were a lot of racist slurs in there.”

McDaniel said he kept a close watch on the students as they did their schoolwork and was shocked to see the websites on the iPad.

“I was pretty amazed that he could even get into this thing on a school device,” McDaniel said.

Higbee said she took her son’s iPad to his school, where staff were blocking sites that were not about online learning.

District spokesman David Smith told 41 Action News that the district has a very strong screening system in place. However, there are ways around this.

McDaniel said it was a good example of how important it is for parents to stay vigilant and keep tabs on their children’s screens if they can.

“The danger is that a lot of the evil out there knows these kids are going to be online, a lot of them are home alone,” McDaniel said.

Smith said the district emphasizes the digital citizenship component of using the district’s devices through the Acceptable Use Policy and Responsible Use Practices, which are designed to help students achieve understand their responsibilities for the use of devices.

He said the district provides additional opportunities for parents who want more control over the devices. Controls are available through the district’s mobile device management system.

Smith said elementary parents need to contact the director of their student’s building to settle in for the service.

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