Internet filters catch student downloading obscene material on school laptop

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. — A Thomasville City Schools student downloaded inappropriate images on a school-issued laptop and was caught by internet filters.

“It was an individual student on their individual computer. We have no knowledge that it was shared. We were notified by our filtering service,” Superintendent Dr. Cate Gentry said.

Gentry told FOX8 a student downloaded obscene images earlier this week and the district’s 24/7 internet filter caught the download and alerted staff.  

Brent Campbell, a spokesperson for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, told FOX8 every school district in the country must have an online filter to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. Now with remote learning and more students online, there’s a bigger focus on these safeguards.

“Our Chromebooks have an additional layer of websites that we’ve identified that may not be identified in that act as problematic, possible spam, possible pornography,” Campbell said. 

“I think any time that our kids have access to the internet we have to be diligent to be observing what’s going on. Anything can happen,” parent Courtney Willis said.

Willis’ son just started remote learning in the Guilford County school district and she periodically checks in on her son while he completes his online schoolwork. 

“I’ve definitely seen a lot of moms checking in to make sure everything is going OK,” Willis said. 

She feels confident with the district’s cyber security measures. 

“Everything has been put in place to help mitigate any of those potential dangers,” Willis said. 

But even with the best online safeguards, Campbell said they’re not always foolproof.  

“I wouldn’t say there’s no way because people can be creative and totally change a website and not have the language around what it really is,” Campbell said. 

Such is the case at Thomasville Senior High School. 

“We’re in contact with that individual student and their family regarding inappropriate materials on their computer,” Gentry said. 

Police were contacted and a report was filed on the student who accessed obscene images. 

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