In Wayzata, Minnesota, a school spies on its students



As someone who used to try and get around library censorware back in the 90s, I understand the sentiment. I understand your principles, OP, but don’t try to do that at work or you’ll get fired.

The iPad thing is more infuriating and I think you’re 100% right there. Recent stories have proven the spying on students through their state-issues laptops and iPads (as in Doctorow’s Homeland) to be true. It may be a burden to use your phone’s net connection, but you’re safer than every one of your fellow students. After all, a backdoor for the “good guys” is also a back door for the “bad guys”.

In summary, you’re a well-principled student trying to do the right thing, but as you get older remember the distinction between things that are wrong, but merely annoying (web filtering at school, uni, or work) and things that are making you unsafe (iPads with backdoors). Much luck and may your principles survive into full adulthood.


I wish you the best in completing your prison sentence, er, uh, secondary education. If it makes you feel any better, my high school experience in the southern 'burbs of the Twin Cities was just as oppressive. And that was back in the stone age when there wasn’t a graphical interface for the internet.


For the people who have the luck of being able to run a server, here is the CGIproxy tool.


That’s what we always impress on the kids we catch trying to bypass our filtering. School should be preparing them for real life, not be a free-for-all do what you like fest.

with little explanation of this software and what it did.

the clause that explicitly allows the district to monitor us at any time, for any reason.

Sounds like they covered it in the contract. Also, they’re not YOUR iPads, they belong to the school district and if they want to put restrictions on the use of them in exchange for letting you use hundreds of dollars worth of technology, that’s fine be me.

I highly recommend reading up on the Pennsylvania district that installed spyware on school-issued laptops which included the ability to turn the webcam on remotely and well after school hours. Are you cool with school staff viewing your kid change clothes at home? I’m not.


I’m aware of that story and of course I’m against that. But this story is so vague about what they are actually doing I can’t compare it to that.

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Use their dumb logic against them: if they aren’t doing anything wrong, why should they be concerned if you publicize their actions and highlight all of the details of their policies?


I just can’t figure out why our country has to import I.T. professionals from India. At least the student is learning things in spite of school if not because of school.


Cor, this is infuriating.

Thankfully, there’s stuff you can do if you’re as incensed by this as I am.

School contact information: (I recommend calling!)

School board: (specifically, Linda Cohen, who is the chair on policy and regulation)

And to go straight to the dude who said “I get to punish who I want when I want”, director of Technology and “Christ, what an asshole” award recipient Wade Philips:

And throw in the Associate Principal why not (presumably the Grade 11 Associate Principal Marian Boyd):

AND her boss, Mike:

School should be well underway there by the time you read this.

You might also call in some tips to the local news station, Channel 12:; or their local affiliates,, because there’s nothing school board members like more than being asked awkward questions about censorship and spying on students by plucky local reporters. :smiley:

I’ve got some teachers and a jerk named Wade to call. Maybe you do, too! I hope you do. Let us know what you say!


Right, but just remember you’re going off the word of a single child here, you might want to get their end of the story before assuming things.

Response #1 about privacy: “every person has sensitive data. Under your terms, you may access information that is otherwise illegal for you to access, so that you could effectively steal my identity.”

Response #2 about privacy: “are you saying that you want to enact the same policy that got a school board in trouble before? If a pupil takes this device home to do homework, who will guarantee that someone cannot remotely activate the camera?”

But alas, you have committed the worst sin, in that you have revealed the Authorities to be incompetent. They hunger to punish you now, so they will scrounge and scrape until they find something to punish you for.


It’s a fair point. Read them the kid’s side of the story, see what they say! Ask them if it’s true! And THEN ask them why they are using the same logic used in Communist Germany to spy on innocent people to watch kids in their school district…if it’s true…


Perilously close to Godwin’s law there… :slight_smile:

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Whenever someone says something along these lines I first think “What the hell are you talking about?” Then is slowly dawns on me that some major part of your life must suck and that it is probably your job. I’m sorry, I hope it gets better.

Anyway, kids learn better with some amount of freedom.


Are you saying that if you broke rules in your workplace you wouldn’t get in trouble and for persistent offences you wouldn’t be fired?


This may be some of the best real world education you could possibly get. The fact that have now published this article is the next big step in your learning.

Like everything else I read day in and out I can’t know the whole the story. Your school can very easily be withholding other reasons they doing what they with or without written policy.
I’m sure the next chapter is going to be very exciting and you are likely to see some negative consequences, even if you are morally correct. Most important, don’t let this interfere with your education.

Some people are making the argument you couldn’t do that in the workplace, well you aren’t in the workplace. Also, since you are currently in BYOD setting in school, yes you would likely have more flexibility on what you do on your equipment on your internet connection than on production machines in a managed environment.

I think in your school situation it would make more sense that some of the people earning a salary aren’t in communication with educators on what are approved website, ie the twitter, comic books, etc to be available for the curriculum instead default web blocking settings etc.

Do consider not all students are as disciplined as you in their usage of what they access and try to access. You might not be as disciplined as you think either.

I won’t be contacting your school or district and I don’t think is a great idea for anyone outside of the community unless they are are a writer/report of EFF type attorney.

Good luck to you. You may just have to know you are right even though they tell you that you are wrong.


Hundreds of dollars worth of technology bought and paid for by the taxpayer… not the school. If you want to spend tax dollars, you had better do it responsibly.


I’ve still seen nothing that says it’s not been responsible