June 15, 2004

State office apologizes for porn slip-up

MARTHA MODEEN; The News Tribune

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction earlier this week apologized to the governor for inadvertently allowing indirect access to pornographic Web sites from the state's education Web page.

On the Internet, Web surfers can access graphic photos with a few clicks of a mouse. In this case, it took eight clicks from the state's education page to reach pictures of nude people.

Even though the link was indirect, Bergeson's office disconnected the links, launched a review of its Web access to outside sites and wrote a letter of apology to Gov. Gary Locke.

State Superintendent Terry Bergeson last month received a letter from her challenger in this fall's election, Juanita Doyon of Spanaway, who complained about the access to X-rated material from the state's education page. Doyon sent a copy of her complaint to the governor, and that prompted Bergeson to send a reply to the governor and Doyon, a spokeswoman said.

"OSPI apologizes for this inadvertent link to inappropriate content, and wishes to let you know that the connecting links were removed as soon as we became aware of the situation," Marty Daybell, deputy superintendent for administration and operations, wrote Locke on Tuesday.

"Please be advised that we will diligently monitor the changing content of sites OSPI either directly or indirectly links to, in an effort to prevent this situation from happening in the future."

OSPI spokeswoman Shirley Skidmore said a Web site outside OSPI changed its content after OSPI established the link from its Web page. OSPI disconnected access as soon as the change was discovered, she said.

"We took care of the problem as soon as we located it," Skidmore said.

OSPI's Web site is located at www.k12.wa.us. The LINKS Learning section on OSPI's Web site is an "E-learning" project paid for by federal grant money. Under a "Kids Section," browsers could access www.dailywriting. net, "a cyber retreat for writers." The writing site linked to www.sugar-n-spicy, a site that links to "art nudes," which in turn links to pornographic Web sites.

OSPI temporarily has pulled the "Life Ready" content from the LINKS Learning Kids Section. OSPI has called for in-house and independent reviews of the content, Skidmore said.

Doyon, a mother of four, said she filed the complaint because she was concerned about content her children could see.

"If you're putting links on a government Web site, you should know where those links lead," she said. "This was something that was supposed to be for children."

Martha Modeen: 253-597-8646

(Published 12:36AM, June 11th, 2004)


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