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Poor porn prevention worries charter school parents

MARBLEHEAD – At an open house last Wednesday, a former Marblehead Community Charter Public School trustee voiced concerns that school leaders did nothing to prevent students from viewing homosexual pornography on the Internet.Former school trustee Susan Gochenour said her belief in the school was shaken by what she called “a pornography incident” last May, when five fifth graders viewed a homosexual pornography video they accidentally came across on the Internet until a teacher shut their monitor down.The school waited three weeks to inform parents of the incident by email and Gochenour said she was shocked to learn that MCCPS did not use computer filters to keep out pornography because “they keep out good Web sites along with the bad.”She then learned that the DOE sent MCCPS and all other Massachusetts public schools a memo in October 2004, requiring schools to use Internet filters in compliance with the Childhood Internet Protection Act.Calling that incident “the tip of the iceberg,” she said it led to her resignation in January because she came to believe the only way to fix the problem was to replace Head of School Thomas Commeret.Gochenour was among 60 people who attended the open house, which was presented by parents who wanted to share their grievances and concerns about the school.In addition to Gochenour’s comments, those in attendance heard emotional presentations by mothers who have pulled their children out of the MCCPS in response to differences with Commeret. As one woman explained to the packed room at the Marblehead Community Center, they could not remain silent because silence made them feel complicit.The group has its own Web site, www.MCCPSinfo.com, and offered several handouts at the meeting, including a copy of the Massachusetts Department of Education letter to Commeret, resignation letters from eight trustees who have resigned since last January and a list of 35 2006-2007 school personnel with educational qualifications and salaries, which includes the claim “Who are the most vocal supporters of the Head of School? Just follow the money!”The school held an open house of its own two weeks ago and has another scheduled later this month, leading the parents to suspect that it wants to rebut the claims made Wednesday night.

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