Norwin High students see a surprise at presentation

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More than 400 Norwin High School seniors got an eyeful Friday morning when pornographic photos appeared on a giant screen during a presentation on the importance of donating blood, triggering awkward laughter, a police investigation and an apology from school officials.

The images -- described by students as gay pornography -- were on a flash drive belonging to a Central Blood Bank employee who was about to deliver a PowerPoint presentation to the entire senior class. Assistant Principal Tim Kotch plugged the drive into a computer, clicked on a file, and several photos appeared.

"It just popped up all of the sudden," and remained on the screen at least 15 seconds, senior Krysta Haines said. "We were like, oh my God, are you serious?"

"It took a few seconds for people to process what was up there," said classmate Chelsey Fix. "People were laughing, but the main thing was people were like, 'I can't believe this happened.' "

Mr. Kotch quickly closed the file and removed the drive. Students said the representative then delivered the rest of his presentation and left.

North Huntingdon police are investigating and will determine whether charges should be filed.

"There were some images projected that were -- we'll just leave it go as 'undesirable,' " said Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Bouldin, who planned to interview administrators, staff and the employee, whom he would not identify. "We're still trying to determine how that occurred."

He said it was too soon to know whether the photos were deliberate or simply an embarrassing accident.

Central Blood Bank suspended the employee indefinitely pending the results of an internal probe, the nonprofit organization wrote in a statement apologizing to Norwin students and parents.

"This employee's actions violated our policy to conduct all operations in an ethical manner," the statement said. "We do not condone these actions and will not tolerate this type of behavior from our employees."

A second Blood Bank presentation for the junior class was canceled, Superintendent William Kerr said. The organization has delivered presentations on blood donation for years and has a good working relationship with the school district, he said.

"We've never had a problem in the past," Dr. Kerr said. "We find it quite unacceptable and inappropriate, and safeguards will be taken into consideration in the future."

School officials also apologized in a letter sent home to parents, pledging that they would take "every measure we can to ensure that the investigation is carried out with the utmost fidelity."


Sadie Gurman: sgurman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878.


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