‘Kutztown 13’ high school students offered deal, felony charges to be dropped

The case against the “Kutztown 13” — a group of high school students charged with felonies for tinkering with their school-issued Apple iBooks — seems to be ending mostly with a whimper, according to The Associated Press. Last year the Kutztown Area School District issued some 600 Apple iBooks to every student at the high school, about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and some students discovered the Mac OS X Admin user password taped to the backs of the iBooks. Students used this password to download and install Apple’s iChat AV, among other things.

“In meetings with students over the last several days, the Berks County juvenile probation office has quietly offered the students a deal in which all charges would be dropped in exchange for 15 hours of community service, a letter of apology, a class on personal responsibility and a few months of probation. ‘The probation department realizes this is small potatoes,’ said William Bispels, an attorney representing nearly half of the accused students,” Michael Rubinkam reports for The Associated Press.

“The 13 were initially charged with computer trespass and computer theft, both felonies, and could have faced a wide range of sanctions, including juvenile detention. The Kutztown Area School District said it reported the students to police only after detentions, suspensions and other punishments failed to deter them from breaking school rules governing computer usage,” Rubinkam reports. “But the students, their families and outraged supporters around the nation said that authorities overreacted, punishing the kids not for any horrible behavior but because they outsmarted the district’s technology workers.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s good to see the Berks County juvenile probation office doing the right thing in this case. As we said when this story broke, the school officials could have easily avoided this mess by just taking the iBooks away or at least setting up a secure admin password (and not taping it to the back of the screens) before giving them back to the students. And get some training for your school system’s IT staff while you’re at it.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Kutztown students face felony charges for Apple iBook misuse – August 10, 2005
Pennsylvania’s Kutztown Area High School students get 640 Apple iBooks – December 06, 2004

44 Comments

  1. Sputnik, you moron,
    They didn’t hack them of the Mac, the password was taped to the back of the iBook. Passwords turn into little black dots in Mac OS X, just like in the “real IT world”.
    Sheesh, just read the article for one paragraph and you could have figured that out.

  2. The notion of charging these kids with felonies over this was ridiculous to begin with. People should be concerned with this emerging attempt to turn this country into a land of convicted felons.

    And that they gave them a name like The Klutztown 13 is another alarming trend. I mean for cripes sake youd think they bombed a subway or something.

  3. Preventive maintenance

    When they get older and think about getting too curious, they can think back to this episode of their lives…

    “People should be concerned with this emerging attempt to turn this country into a land of convicted felons”

    As long as we keep letting them go…..

  4. “15 hours of community service, a letter of apology, a class on personal responsibility and a few months of probation”

    15 hours of detention?

    What is the letter of apology going to say? “I am sorry the Kutztown School District hired the biggest morons on the planet for an IT staff.”?

    An extra hour of detention?

    And probation?

    All for loading iChatAV? My answer to that would still be “f— you take me to court.”

  5. from jas: “sputnik is being funny. Get it.”

    I suppose – but it gets old real fast. I visit this site a lot (too much probably) and it has been great to have a break from that sarcasm for a while but now sputnik appears to back from holiday. 🙁

  6. Still logging in as an Admin is wrong, but I wouldn’t really punish that so much, just get better security. The real question is, why didn’t “detentions, suspensions, and other punishments” make them stop? So they installed iChat and got detention…then what?

    I think we’re only getting half the story…

  7. The school could have monkeys to manage newtork. That is not the issue. The school didn’t put them up against the wall and yell “frlony”. The kids were warned not to continue once they were caught the first time, and were given detention for it. They continued and that is when charges were filed. Thats the problem as I see it. Once warned, they should have stopped. And I wonder how much the parents knew, and if they did, seem to think it was funny or “creative”….. what a way to teach respect for authority…maybe thats why kids come to school with guns, knives, drugs, have fights. “My child couldn’t do that”, “He/she is a good kid”, “You can’t do that to my kid” ……. No backing from parents, no reason to enforce school policies.

    If my kid did it, I’d warn them once and if they continued and got caught, I’d let them spend a week in jail.

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