June 3, 1997
Website spelling errors, typos
mortify school district officials
Mistake-plagued material typed
by students for pages on the Internet slips through to a worldwide
By Steve Friess
To enroll you're childeren in kunderfarden,
it is improtant and nessary to bring a coppy of a utility bull,
even in outlaying areas.
Or so read the World Wide Web sites of the Clark
County School District, which included those misspellings and
dozens of others in instructions for how to register for school
and how to interest children in reading.
The sites, available in their error-ridden forms
on the Internet since November, were taken down Monday after
the Review-Journal asked about them.
"This is terrible," said School Board Vice President
Larry Mason, who vowed an investigation. "If this is true and
not somebody's idea of a joke, I'm not a happy camper. This
is very embarrassing."
It's true. One site titled "Help Your Child
Develop a Love of Reading" has been available for the global
Internet audience with the word "children" misspelled as "childeren"
The words "school," "learning," "knowledge,"
"helping," "birthday," "library," "paragraphs" and "teeth" all
appeared incorrect on other sites. The word "four" was used
in place of "for," and the word "your" was used instead of "you're."
Superintendent Brian Cram, whose own greeting
on one of the sites misspelled "important," called the site
"If students were taking the state's high school
exit exam for competency and turned in this kind of work, they
simply wouldn't pass," Cram said. "Computers these days all
are equipped with spell checkers, so at the very least, somebody
should have run this through a spell checker. I appreciate the
students attempting to help out, but we should have realized
this was going to be a public document."
In all, more than 36 words were misspelled or
"It's atrocious," Trustee Lois Tarkanian said.
"Some of these are obviously typing errors, but others I believe
are spelling errors. When you say 'outlaying' instead of 'outlying,'
that's an actual mistake."
The material for the sites was typed by students
at the Advanced Technologies Academy in a website management
course taught by instructor John Snyder. Snyder said he gave
their work to the district's technology office expecting it
to be edited, but that never occurred. Instead, technology supervisor
Judi Steele said, the sites were put up without change, and
Snyder was told to correct the errors.
The pages were never changed, nor did district
staff ever check on the matter, Steele said.
"We made the judgment when (Snyder) gave it
to us with all the typos that we were going to put it up as
a learning experience for the students," said Steele, who said
corrected websites will be placed online by June 15. "We thought
at that time it would be good for the kids to see something
publis hed and to fix it quickly. We didn't expect it to be
up there for more than a week or so."
Putting the sites up created a public relations
fiasco for the district, school trustees said.
"I'm all for kids working with computers, but
part of school process is the editing process," Trustee Judy
Witt said. "We want things under Clark County School District's
name to be professional and to protect the integrity of an organization
that requires higher standards than this."
On one site titled "Help Your Child Read," the
name of a pamphlet available from the Children's Book Council
in New York City was listed as "Chossing a Children's Book."
That poor spelling was used to promote literacy is ironic, a
spokesman for the nonprofit Book Council said.
"It does strike me that for a school district
to have a website where there are such egregious errors, I would
begin to wonder personally about the people running the district
and how their inattention to details is affecting the young
people going to the school," said Andy Propst, who oversees
the Book Council's Internet presence.
The mistakes are unfortunate because they distract
from the quality of the material the district is offering to
computer users, Trustee Mary Beth Scow said.
"The information's wonderful," Scow said. "I'm
really proud of what's on there, but it wasn't proofread, I
guess. It looked like someone typed it really fast and didn't
go back over it. It's neat that they had students working on
it, but it unfortunately wasn't checked back on."
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