Confused school district fires sysadmin for running SETI@home: 'As an educational institution we do not support the search for E.T.'

We've dealt with a number of confused and outright foolish school administrators in our time, but it seems like Arizona's Higley Unified School District might be run by the most bonkers of the bunch: they've fired IT director Brad Niesluchowski for running SETI@Home on some 5,000 of the district's machines. Why? According to confidently-underinformed superintendent Denise Birdwell, Higley Unified "certainly would have supported cancer research," but does "not support the search for E.T." Well, that's just peachy -- except that her flippant dismissal of SETI belies a complete ignorance of one of the oldest and most respected distributed-computing projects in the world, and what it's actually looking for. Oh, but it gets worse: Birdwell thinks SETI@home -- which primarily runs as a screensaver -- was somehow slowing down "educational programs in every classroom," and magically estimates that it's cost her district "$1 million in added utility fees and replacement parts," with a further huge cost required to remove the software. Completing her transformation into the worst-possible stereotype of a school district superintendent, Birdwell's even got the local cops on the case. Yeah, it's idiotic, but it could be worse -- we can only imagine the hell that would have broken loose had Higley's machines been a part of the renegade Engadget Folding@home team.

So there's apparently more going on here as well, including allegations of stolen equipment and -- inevitably -- downloaded porn, but none of that explains why Superintendent Birdwell is giving press conferences where she slams SETI. Check the more coverage links for the full story, and make sure to hit the source link for the video.