Officials say virus caused unsavory images on school SMART board

MOUNT PLEASANT–It appears a computer virus was the culprit behind pop-up images of scantily-clad women during a classroom lesson at Christ Our King-Stella Maris in Mount Pleasant, according to school officials.

Parents received a letter recently from the two pastors of the school, detailing allegations against a sixthgrade teacher and explaining the investigation and its results.It stated that two groups of students told Jean Moschella, principal, that their science teacher had allowed pictures of nearly-naked women to appear on their SMART board when science videos were shown in class.

The sixth-graders said the teacher instructed them not to tell their parents or she would be fired.

School officials stated that the teacher was called in and confirmed that images — including one of the late Anna Nicole Smith, a Playboy playmate — did appear, but said they were unintended and she did not know  where they came from. The teacher said her remark about not telling the parents was a joke.

She was placed on administrative leave and the diocese began an investigation. Father Titus Fulcher, director of the Office of Child Protection Services, was contacted and engaged independent investigator Paul Buceti.

Buceti met with groups of concerned parents, interviewed three sixth-graders in the presence of their parents, and interviewed the principal, vice-principal, and technology coordinator. He also reviewed emails exchanged by parents regarding the allegations and other complaints against the teacher and school. Buceti reported that he found nothing incriminating.

The diocese then hired former FBI agent and forensic computer expert Alfred Johnson, who searched the school’s computer system and the teacher’s desktop and laptop computers, and her iPad.

Johnson’s report noted that he found no evidence of tampering or any attempts to remove or destroy data. He did fi nd a number of viruses on the desktop computer, one of which defeats a safety filter and allows unintended images to be displayed through no fault of the user, the letter stated.

The letter to parents was signed by Msgr. James A. Carter from Christ Our King Church and Msgr. Lawrence B. McInerny of Stella Maris Church.

The teacher returned to work Feb. 29 but was reprimanded for her inappropriate comments.

Officials said the children did the right thing in coming forward, and emphasized that they should always tell someone when they perceive harm or danger of any sort. Counselors are available for any students who wish to discuss the situation.

Some parents voiced concern about the teacher returning to class, and said previous complaints were not factored into the decision. The diocese issued a statement in response, noting that past grievances have been addressed and the teacher was cleared in this matter.

“Since there was no evidence whatsoever that she deliberately allowed those images to appear on the SMART Board, the decision for her to return to the classroom was based on the revelation that she had not purposely done anything wrong. Additional complaints, innuendos or conclusions raised by others are not supported by fact,” the letter stated.