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- Lynn Clark, the Superintendent of the Chicopee Public Schools, is arrested for lying to the FBI over harassing texts
- See our interview with Quentin Dale in TCP Episode 56 about teacher licensing investigations.
- Chicopee is a town of about 55,000, just north of Springfield, Mass. in the western part of the state
- The Chicopee Public School District serves about 7800 students in pre-K to 12th grade, in 14 different schools
- Clark, 51, was appointed superintendent in 2019 with an effective start date of February 2020. She began working in the district as a substitute teacher and eventually served as the principal of three schools and then assistant superintendent
- Her first year as superintendent was considered to “outstanding”
- During the city’s search for a new police chief, one candidate (a member of the Chicopee Police Dept.) began receiving a series of harassing texts
- The messages threatened “to damage his reputation” if he did not withdraw from the application pool (and in fact, the officer did withdraw)
- Some messages, the victim said, contained information that he had only shared with one person: Clark
- Chicopee Mayor John L. Vieau reported the threatening texts to the FBI in early December
- Clark was questioned by the FBI and initially denied sending the texts
- She also claimed to have received similar threats
- She subsequently admitted that she sent them and said “that the officer ‘had achieved many accomplishments based on [her] work’ and she wanted to see him ‘knocked down a peg.’”
- By an 8–3 vote, the Chicopee School Committee voted to put Clark on paid leave
- The Importance of Restraint and Self-Control
- Big question regarding the relationship / connection between Clark and the police officer
- “The FBI said that in January, Clark told investigators she feared the investigation was harming her professional reputation and ‘tearing the city apart.’”
How Clark Got Burned – The Difficulty of Truly Remaining Anonymous Online
- Clark allegedly used a “burner app” to send approximately 100 threatening text messages
- She told the FBI that she “she had also used similar burner apps to contact students’ parents who were ‘unresponsive’ to calls from numbers associated with the Chicopee Public Schools.
What Are ”Burner Apps“?
- A ”burner app“ allows you to purchase one or more anonymous phone numbers. The company operating the burner app receives the call or text and routes it to your actual phone number, which the person on the other end does not know. When the user no longer needs the alternative phone number, he or she can ”burn“ it by discontinuing payment. Calls or texts to that number will no longer be forwarded.
- Promotional explanation for the Burner app:
Use Burner for everyday situations. Create a disposable phone number for dating, salespeople, deliveries, shopping online or selling items on Craigslist. You can use it as a longterm second phone number for your business or side projects. Integrations with Dropbox, Google Drive, and Slack allow you to archive messages and voicemails, and communicate with your team. Create multiple numbers, keep them as long as you want, or burn them anytime. Share your Burner with anyone and everyone, or keep your new number secret for anonymous texting. No hassles, no contracts.
Examples of burner apps:
- Cloud SIM
What Can a Digital Investigation Reveal?
- The ”phone number“ (burner number) from which the messages were sent
- Police can link phone number to specific burner app company
- Records held by the operator of the burner app showing which subscriber is using a particular number at any given moment
- Payment records that reveal device ID used to make the purchase (in this case, Apple ID)
- Records revealing link between user’s device and a specific home IP address, which in turn provides a physical address
- Records held by the cell carrier showing use of the individual’s phone, specifically time and date of calls, even if recipient is hidden
From Burner: ”Calls made through Burner show up on your phone bill as calls between your Burner number and your personal number. The end numbers you are calling through Burner are not shown. Incoming calls show up as calls from your Burner number.“
- Text messages can be sent entirely within burner apps (assuming internet connectivity), which shields texting activity from cell carrier; however, records of burner app company can still reveal linkage between burner number and actual number
- Location of the device used (cell tower pings, Wi-Fi, even Bluetooth – consider implications of Find My network)
- Voicemail or other recordings that can be used for voice-matching technology
Clark could face additional charges
- She has admitted deleting every message on her phone, which could constitute obstruction of justice
Impact on administration, staff, school community, and city
- Prevention is challenging
- Not a systemic issue
- Few if any warning signs
- Personal demons / vulnerabilities
Structure / resources for help?
- Persistent reminders to entire school community of the challenges of overcoming bad search results
- Use cautionary tales like this one to remind school community of significant legal risks; Clark is facing up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to the loss of her $175,000/year job.
- #2022–04–11 Here’s what we know about the Mass. school superintendent who allegedly sent threatening texts — and then lied to the FBI.
- #2022–04–07 ‘A huge dark cloud over the city.’ Chicopee officials place superintendent on paid leave, ask for her resignation following arrest
- #2022–04–07 Chicopee superintendent worked her way up to the school system’s top job
- #2022–04–06 Schools Boss Arrested After Threatening Police Chief Hopeful in Dozens of Creepy Texts, Feds Say
- #2022–04–06 Chicopee school superintendent arrested on federal charge of lying about alleged threatening text message plot
- #2022–02–06 The 5 Best Apps for a Temporary Burner Phone Number
- #2022–01–07 10 Best Burner Phone Number Apps (Free and Paid)