Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Teacher May Serve Up to 40 Years for Computer Use

Here is important news that all teachers who use computers in their classroom should know. Julie Amerio of Windham, CT was arrested for accidentally letting pornography sites cycle on the computer where she substitute taught in Kelly Middle School in Norwich, CT. She claims that as a luddite she did not know how to turn off the pop-up pornography sites once they infiltrated the classroom computer. Although she tried to block students from seeing the images by standing in front of the computer, she also left the room to seek help, leaving students behind to view the material.
The case also raises challenges for the school system. First, the school administration acknowledges maintenance fell behind of computers in the school to block inappropriate sites. Amerio's arrest leaves open the question of culprity. During Amerio's trial, Robert Hertz, information services manager for the Norwich school system, said the filters to block the pop-up sites were not operational because needed information was lacking for several weeks. Amerio faces 40 years in prison with sentence.
What if she were called to the school to substitute on another day? What if the school had the computer properly maintained? Is Amerio's sentencing fair?

Follow this link to learn more: One summary offered: "A 40-year-old former substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing prison time following her conviction for endangering students by exposing them to pornographic material displayed on a classroom computer. The graphic images were pop-up ads generated by spyware already present on the computer prior to the teacher's arrival."
Post comments on the case.



Anonymous said...

This accusation makes me very nervous. Our computers let spam in all the time. This really makes you think twice about what emails you open and which ones you delete right away. I guess she shouldn't have left the classroom, but is she truly at fault. Sounds like it would be very hard to investigate this case. ~Erin

Sandy said...

Judy - I wonder if some information is missing from the media accounts. It seems as though this unfortunate woman is being railroaded. I understand that she panicked, but why didn't she just shut down the computer? I realize it's hard to second-guess her actions, but something just doesn't seem right about this story.

Danielle said...

I think that 40 years in prison is pretty harsh. I do not think she should be punished because she did not mean for this to happen and I feel as though it is not her fault. Since the pop-up blocker was not working, she should havebeen made aware of that.

Its also really shocking becuase this could happen to anyone and I am glad that she has some people that are backing her up.

Anonymous said...

It seems the first responsibility of a school system is to ensure that the firewalls are in place to block such pop-ups. If it is true that the pornography popped-up inadvertantly, the punishment for the substitute teacher seems unfair.
It is the firewalls that often make using computers in the classroom challenging. Some very appropriate sites that I have attempted to extract data from are often blocked on the day and class time that I need them. So we are caught with the degree of restrictions that are being imposed.
It does seem in this instance that the school system was lacking in their responsibility to maintain the firewalls. Also, in my high school substitute teachers do not have access (passwords) to use the computers.

Anonymous said...


I actually haven't heard about this case prior to today. It is so unfortunate that this situation happened to this substitute teacher. With the push to integrate technology into the classrooms it is so easy for a situation like this to occur. I think if schools are requesting teachers to use technology and the internet often they need to take actions to ensure that firewalls and pop-up blockers are all working accordingly to prevent events like this from happening. It just makes me think more about this because each day I have to log into an attendance program through the would be possible for a pop-up to appear on my screen. It just seems like 40 years is quite a long time for this woman to be punished. It is good though that she has a lot of support. A case like this should make school districts work to ensure that all of the appropriate computer safety measures are in place and working.


Stacey said...

This case makes me very nervous to use a computer lab in a school system. After reading about this case on CNN and from the website you provided, I don't believe it's fair for her to be convicted. If she had been given the opportunity to present her entire defense, I'm sure the ruling wouldn't have been as bad. The other part that bothers me is the fact that the school had outdated computer protection. Providing a computer lab to a school requires specific obligations that were clearly ignored. I would hope that teachers would be more supportive to a substitute in a school than just dismissing her and leaving her defenseless. I was incredibly disappointed that adults would behave like this to a colleague. I hope from this case schools realize they can not ignore their computer protection programs in the future. Hopefully she will be the only unfortunate case, but you never know.

Sandy said...

Judy - Norwich Free Academy, where I work, is independent of the public school district for the City of Norwich, so our computers and technology are not connected with what happened at Kelly Middle School. I have read about this case in the newspaper, but surprisingly, I have not heard it mentioned by other teachers at NFA. I will see what I can find out tomorrow. At NFA, substitute teachers are not allowed to use the classroom computers, nor can they take the students to the computer lab to work. Substitutes take attendance on paper. Teachers are not to log on for anyone else, nor are we supposed to share our passwords with anyone, including other teachers. We are required to log off or lock our computers if we leave our desks. I am certain that teachers or administrators in our school would react quickly to a request for assistance with the computer. It sounds as though things were pretty lax at Kelly Middle School.

Anonymous said...

I think this is absurd in this day and age. The substitute teacher should not be blamed for this. But... I also wonder if she acted appropriately in this situation. Was she able to turn off the computer? Did she call and request for someone to come to her aid. Could she have covered the computer so that the kids could not see the images? There are many unanswered questions here to allow me to be comfortable to "judge" what should be done in this unfortunate situation!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the substitute teacher should be blamed for what happened. I am not sure if all the information is being presented to the media but it just doesn't make sense to me. Granted it was a very uncomfortable situation to be faced with and I think school districts should work extra hard to ensure that all of the computer safety programs are in place and working appropriately.

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