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The Lake News Online
  • District to host community form on ACLU lawsuit

  • The Camdenton R-III School District is hosting a public forum on Tuesday to discuss the recent American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and the district's Internet filtering software and policy.


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  • The Camdenton R-III School District is hosting a public forum on Tuesday to discuss the recent American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and the district's Internet filtering software and policy.
    The forum is fulfilling a promise the district made last September during the height of taxpayers' unrest over the federal lawsuit that claimed the district's Internet filtering software was a violation of first amendment rights. The ACLU, which backed a number of non-profit pro-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered organizations, believed the district's software was prejudicially blocking websites from student access.
    A large majority of parents, guardians and taxpayers in the district were strong supporters of the school district fighting the lawsuit to protect students from what information could be accessed on school computers. Questions and concerns, however, kept coming up about the district's Internet usage policies.
    The district responded by saying they would hold a public forum as soon as the lawsuit was over.
    The forum is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, in the R.C. Worthan Auditorium. It is an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the current policy, the lawsuit and voice their concerns.
    Representatives from the district and its legal counsel will be there to help answer questions.
    Officials said they will use the feedback gathered to revisit the district's policy on how students gain access to the Internet. Modifications to the permission slips guardians sign for their child could come afterwards, based on the feedback.
    The ACLU and the Camdenton School District reached a settlement earlier this year ending the lawsuit.
    The settlement requires the Camdenton School District to fix their filter to unblock non-sexual LGBT-supportive websites, which they claim they have. As an act of reassurance, the district has to submit quarterly reports of filtered websites for the next 18 months. Those reports will be sent to a retired superintendent who will distribute them to the attorneys involved in the case.
    The district is also required to pay $125,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union to cover a portion of its attorney fees for the federal lawsuit that lasted around eight months.
    The district's insurance consortium is covering $100,000 of the settlement costs and the district's own attorney's fees.
    Superintendent Tim Hadfield said there is a line item within the district's budget for attorney fees.
     

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