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Cybertraps for Educators Digest

πŸ“– Above the Fold: Diary of a Pervy Teacher ~ πŸ“Ή 2. Update on Plainview ISD iPad Video Controversy ~ 🏈 3. CA Football Player Accused of Electronic Sexual Assault ~ β›ͺ 4. Bible Reference Sparks Online Outrage in Loudon County ~ 🎌 5. Japanese Teacher Crosses a Line

Cybertraps for Educators Digest
The Bridges of DUMBO, New York, NY [Frederick Lane, 2023]
Table of contents

by Frederick Lane – 26 May 2023

Reminder: The first of my summer webinar series, co-sponsored by NASDTEC, will take place at 11:30am EST on June 1, 2023.

The topic: Summer Cybertraps: Social Media and Vacation Photos.

If you received this newsletter in your inbox, then you will receive a registration code for the webinar next week. I look forward to the presentation and hope that you will join me.

The five remaining webinars will be made available to paid subscribers of The Cybertraps Newsletter ($5/mo).

Ongoing Updates to Cybertraps Archives:
– Lectures and Presentations
– Newsletter Articles
– Cybertraps Podcast Episodes

πŸ“– Above the Fold: Diary of a Pervy Teacher

Cybertraps Themes: Email / Smartphones / Snapchat / Sexting / Photos / Video / Bumble / Obstruction of Justice / Durability of Data

Andrew Lamont, a second year teacher in the South Lanarkshire council area of Scotland (just southeast of Glasgow), was struck off the teaching rolls for a series of highly inappropriate communications with an underage sixth year student.

Risk Factors. Lamont is a walking checklist of unprofessional behaviors. In addition to harassing classroom behavior, he gave the S6 student his personal email and then began sending her inappropriate correspondence. He persuaded her to add him on Snapchat, which led to even more inappropriate communications (including a video that showed him masturbating). He found her profile on the dating app Bumble and intensified his pursuit of her.

Infatuation Is Quite a Drug. It is clear that Lamont understood how risky his behavior was. In one email, for instance, he writes:

Jesus I am SO deleting these e-mails after tonight...maybe I like frustrating you. And maybe I'll tell you if you promise to delete the e-mails after too so we don't get in trouble... 18 or not this sort of conversation is definitely against the rules...

The electronic evidence contains multiple instances of Lamont urging the student to delete or hide their exchanges and warning of the potential harm to his career if they were discovered.

The Delete Key Is a Myth. Far too few people really appreciate just how durable digital data can be. Even if Lamont did delete his emails, it would be a simple matter for the student to keep her copies. The options are manifold: digital duplicates, screenshots, photos, printouts, etc. The same is true for Snaps, Bumble messages, and every other form of electronic communication.

Unintended journaling. School administrators and educators should take a few minutes to skim the evidence that was available to the General Teaching Council for Scotland in deciding this case (see the PDF below). No one should have any illusions about how easily potentially damaging electronic communications can be preserved.

Peak grooming. One of the findings by the Council was particularly disturbing, since it underscores the corrosive effect that smartphones have had on adolescence and the leverage it provides to abusers. Lamont, the Council said, messaged the student on Snapchat,

[s]tating that it was ok to send sexual images and that everybody does it, or words to that effect, when Pupil A expressed discomfort about her sending images of an intimate or sexual nature to him.

πŸ“Ή 2. Update on Plainview ISD iPad Video Controversy

Cybertraps Themes: District Policies / Professional Development / Transparency / Online threats

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a disturbing incident that occurred at South Elementary in the Plainview ISD in Texas ("1st Grader Records In-Class Sexual Assault"). The community furor has not subsided; if anything, it's grown more intense.

Policy updates. Not surprisingly, the district is reviewing its relevant policies, including its "electronic device policy." Possible changes include a ban on personal devices before 7th grade, stricter limits on use by older students, and a requirement than any school-issued device "only be used under the supervision of a teacher or teacher's assistant to ensure proper use."

Disputed facts. The school district rejected many of the claims made by angry parents. From the Plainview ISD press release: Law enforcement was called as soon as the video was discovered. No sexual assault occurred; instead, it was "mutual inappropriate sexual contact ... between two 6-year-old students," lasting less than a minute. And according to hallway surveillance video, the teacher was not wearing headphones or earbuds when the recording was made.

The District's account did not calm members of the community, who packed a regularly-scheduled meeting of the Plainview ISD school board on May 18. At the request of the administration and board, a large contingent of local police officers were present (including some overlooking the parking lot from the roof of the administration building). Attendees were prohibited from bringing any bags into the meeting and everyone had to pass through a metal detector to enter the building.

District officials told local media that they had requested the increased police presence due to threatening "online chatter."

Prior to the meeting on May 18, multiple flyers and notices of a planned protest before the meeting were posted across social platforms. Those posts included threats and criticism of the school district for its response to what the district described as a β€œsexual incident” between two Plainview South Elementary students in mid-April.

School closures. Following news of the iPad video, threats led to the closure of all Plainview ISD schools for two days. Administrators announced that district schools will have heightened security for the remainder of the year.

Want to reduce the chances that your district or a member of the school community will show up in a future edition of The Cybertraps Newsletter? Schedule some timely, informative professional development by contacting me at FSLane3@Cybertraps.com

🏈 3. CA Football Player Accused of Electronic Sexual Assault

Cybertraps Themes: Smartphone(s) / Videorecording / Electronic Sexual Assault / CSAM / Distribution / Digital Investigation / Transparency / FERPA / Social Media / Digital Mob(s)

Nightmare. That's really the only way to describe the situation facing the Rocklin (CA) Unified School District right now. At a school board meeting on May 3, a female sophomore testified that over Thanksgiving break, she engaged in sexual activity with a member of the football team. She alleged that he recorded their activity without her consent and then shared the video with "teens across the county."

As a result, she told the board, she had been bullied and harassed by many of her peers and that the situation had affected her grades and mental health.

In a matter of months, I went from being a well-respected, high-achieving student athlete to a student who is categorized as the school slut. Each day, I suffer severe anxiety in a way I never have at school. I live in anger because of the lack of justice. ... I have to suffer the consequences while he gets to walk around with his head held high. I want to know why he is respected and I am disdained. The answer is he is a male football player and the next quarterback.

Rocklin administrators issued a statement saying that they were made aware of the incident in January 2023 and immediately began an investigation. Nonetheless, the apparent lack of progress led to a walkout by several dozen Rocklin High School students in mid-May.

Last week, at the May 17 board meeting, the young man's father vigorously denied the allegations, including the existence of any videorecording, and said that his son was also being targeted online.

[He's] being harassed by students and adults. He’s being called a sexual predator, pedophile, and a rapist. He’s been bullied online by other quarterbacks because of false accusations. ... I hope the school and the community can repair itself after this unfortunate event that was handled by the public and social media mob based on lies and slander.

Frustration. As Rocklin Unified School District chief of communications Sundeep S. Dosanjh acknowledged, members of the community are frustrated by the lack of information. However, neither the district (FERPA) nor the District Attorney's Office (state statute) is permitted to comment on the substance of the investigations.

Policy Updates. The district has repeatedly said, however, that it will "review board policies and student codes to identify areas for improvement." In particular, the board will be looking at existing materials regarding cybersafety and sexting. 

The Cybertraps Podcast #154 β€” Interview with Amos Guiora, Author of "Armies of Enablers"

β›ͺ 4. Bible Reference Sparks Online Outrage in Loudon County

Cybertraps Themes: Policies / Social Media / Facebook / Parents / Private Group / Online Threats / Doxxing / Digital Mob

In December 2022, a man named Mark Winn stood up at a meeting of the Loudon County School Board and criticized the district's support for LGBTQ+ students. His comments were made in the context of the board's review of a 91-page grand jury report that criticized the district's handling of "two sexual assaults committed by the same student in May and October 2021 on different high school campuses."

It goes against God’s design for us and it goes against the natural order of nature. These behaviors should never have been promoted, taught or encouraged in the schools that you oversee. ... Again I say to you, if any man or woman causes one of these little ones to stumble it would be better for a millstone to be put around your neck and thrown into the lake. It’s not my words, it’s God’s words. Please, please, get back to reading, writing and arithmetic and quit grooming and pimping.

The reference to the millstone was drawn from Matthew 18:6, a verse in which Jesus warns of the consequences "to those who cause others to sin." But many at the meeting (and online) took Winn's words to be a not-so-veiled threat of violence against school officials.

In the weeks following the meeting, members of a Facebook group called the "Loudon Love Warriors" posted a series of angry and threatening messages about Winn and other anti-LGBTQ+ activists. Among the comments posted:

  • β€œMark Winn. I’m gonna find his employer.”
  • β€œAnd holding that company accountable until he is fired.”
  • β€œLets make him unemployable by love or by force.”
  • β€œWish I had footage of every person who clapped for him and give them the same ousting that Winn is about to.”
  • β€œI want to contact his employer to do just that. Ruin his livelihood.”

Doxxing. At least one county resident says that he was fired after speaking out at the December meeting.

Nationalizing the controversy. The LLW Facebook group has become a cause célèbre for conservative media outlets and state politicians, including Virginia governor (and potential POTUS candidate) Glenn Youngkin. Even Congress is getting involved: two members of the House, Chip Roy (R-Tx.) and Bob Good (R-Va.), sent a letter to the board demanding that Chairman Ian Serotkin investigate "the extent to which staff and associates of Loudoun County officials and school board members were involved in targeting parents like Mr. Winn, and hold all those responsible fully accountable."

🎌 5. Japanese Teacher Crosses a Line

Cybertraps Themes: Social Media / Line / Sexting / Cyberharrassment / Termination

One of the persistent challenges for school administrators, educators, and parents is the sheer number of messaging alternatives available to young people (and/or predatory teachers). It can be really hard to keep up.

Here's a good illustration. I came across a report in The Mainichi, a Japanese newspaper, that a teacher named Yasuyuki Shiraishi had been fired from his job at Kumamoto Municipal Tobu Junior High School in southwestern Japan. Sadly, there's nothing particularly remarkable about this particular case; it's yet another example of an infatuated 53-year-old inundating a student with undesired (and undesirable) messages.

So much messaging. In its report, the local board of education said that Shiraishi sent the student 634 messages over the course of a month, including 117 in a single day.

The Line app. The messaging service used by the teacher, Line, is the most popular messaging app in Japan, with more than 92 million users. Globally, it is estimated to have more than 220 million users.

It is relatively unknown in the United States, with less than 700,000 unique installs last year. It is, however, readily available for download without restriction in both the App Store and on Google Play and can certainly be used by people in this country to communicate with each other. Yet another service to track.

πŸ“§ Have a great week, everyone. If you have questions, story ideas, or other suggestions, please email me: FSLane3@Cybertraps.com.

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