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December 22, 2009

DiNapoli: Porn Found on Computers Assigned to a
Board Member and Students at Buffalo City SD

Two Other Laptops Assigned to Board Members Wiped Clean;
$51K in Health Insurance Premiums Paid for Deceased Individuals

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Pornographic images and other inappropriate material were found on Buffalo City School District laptops, including one that was assigned to a board member, because the district failed to enforce its acceptable use policy for its computers, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Now more than ever, school districts should be watching every taxpayer dime,” DiNapoli said. “Taxpayers should not have to subsidize pornography, poker and private business enterprises on school computers. The school district needs to start closely monitoring the use of its computers. The lack of oversight is astonishing and completely unacceptable.”

The audit, covering July 2007 to September 2009, found that 22 out of 47 laptop computers tested were used inappropriately. One laptop assigned to a board member contained seven pornographic images and evidence that pornographic, gambling and social networking websites were visited. This laptop also had billing invoices and flyers for the board member’s private consulting business.

In addition, two other laptops assigned to board members had been wiped clean before auditors could examine them. One board member stated the laptop may have been used by her private law firm, which is an inappropriate use of district resources. A fourth board member’s laptop showed evidence it was used for on-line banking and contained unauthorized software.

DiNapoli’s audit also found that seven laptops assigned to district staff contained:

  • inappropriate pictures of scantily clad young adults;
  • a full-length movie not suitable for student viewing;
  • poker games, personal credit card information, numerous music files; and
  • confidential student information, social security numbers and medical information that were not encrypted and could be viewed by unauthorized individuals.

Auditors also examined 18 laptops assigned to students and discovered pornographic material on six computers; seven laptops with music files including one that had 946 such files; file-sharing software; and games.

Auditors determined the district did not enforce its acceptable use policy and was lax in its oversight of information technology security. The district spent more than $30,000 on mobile web filters to block inappropriate use of the Internet but failed to install the filters on 25 of the laptops auditors examined. Laptops also lacked updated virus protection even though the district paid more than $178,000 for this software. The lack of oversight allowed the extensive inappropriate use of district computers and put the district’s network and data at risk of loss, abuse and virus infection.

The audit also found the district paid an estimated $51,000 in health insurance premiums for people who were deceased. This occurred because the district’s system for removing deceased individuals from the health insurance plan failed to pick up that these individuals were no longer alive.

DiNapoli’s office recommends that district officials:

  • design a comprehensive system of controls over information technology resources and appoint a district official accountable for its implementation;
  • monitor compliance with and enforce the district acceptable use policy for computers;
  • document all computer policies and develop procedures to manage those policies;
  • install mobile web filters and current virus protection on all laptops;
  • investigate and correct procedures to identify deceased retirees and dependents; and
  • seek full reimbursement from its retiree health insurer.

The district disagreed with some of the audit’s findings and questioned the methodology. The full response is included in the audit.

DiNapoli’s office is conducting a second audit of the district’s internal controls of certain financial operations. That audit will be completed in early summer 2010.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 700 school audits and approximately 30 school audits are currently underway.

Click here for a copy of the Buffalo City SD audit.

Comptroller audio available.



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