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

Posted at 7:17 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 22:53:25-04

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — A parent in the Shawnee Mission School District is questioning the district's filtering program on devices given to students.

Traci Higbee said her third grade son, Logan, somehow ended up in an adult chat room on his district-issued device while doing virtual learning last week.

"I was horrified, you know it was saying rape should be legal and how do you want to kill yourself and I'm thinking oh no, this is a very bad thing," Higbee said.

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

Head instructor Matt McDaniel said he noticed the boy was on another adult sites that had inappropriate drawings.

"The pictures were pretty inappropriate, there were ladies in bikinis being drawn on there, fishnet stockings, type of stuff," McDaniel said. "There was a lot of racial slurs in there."

McDaniel said he keeps a close eye on students as they do their school work and was shocked to see the websites up on the iPad.

"I was pretty amazed that he was even able to get into this thing on a school device," McDaniel said.

Higbee said she took her son's Ipad to his school where staff blocked sites that did not pertain to online learning.

District spokesperson David Smith told 41 Action News the district has a very strong filtering system in place. However, there are ways around it.

McDaniel said it's a good example of how crucial it is for parents to stay vigilant and keep an eye on their children's screens if they can.

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

Smith said the district emphasizes the digital citizenship component of using district devices through the Acceptable Use Policy and Responsible Use Practice, which is designed to help students understand their responsibilities when it comes to using the devices.

He said the district does provide some additional avenues for parents who want more control over devices. There are controls available through the district's mobile device management system.

Smith said elementary parents need to get in touch with their student's building principal to get set up for the service.