Henrico County, Va. first rose to prominence with Mac users earlier this year when it was announced that the county’s school system had committed to a deal with Apple to purchase 23,000 iBooks — the biggest sale of laptop computers to education ever (the four year lease comes in at about $18.5 million). The deal was announced the same day that Apple’s revamped iBook was introduced.
Henrico County’s integration of laptops into the school system hasn’t gone without a few hitches since May. A couple of months ago it was reported that Henrico students were having trouble connecting to the wireless network in some spots because demand outstripped supply. Now there’s a new problem — the Associated Press reports that some of the Henrico County high school students using iBooks have been caught with downloaded hard-core pornography.
The imbroglio involves a fairly small number of students — about five dozen out of almost 12,000, according to AP. The students have been disciplined and the offending material has been removed.
Superintended Mark A. Edwards said on Thursday that school staff and administration is “paying very careful attention” to the problem, and acknowledged that the county’s aggressive technology adoption program was bound to run into challenges. Adams also defended the laptops’ use, saying that the vast majority of students have used the iBooks in a responsible fashion.
Edwards indicated that the county already has in place Internet filtering software that blocks access to Web sites that have any sexual references in the address or the site’s text. AP also reported that the laptops will be rounded up by school officials during the upcoming Christmas break for a memory upgrade and the addition of security features to further restrict student access to Internet pornography.