Buffalo School Superintendent James Harris has pulled the plug on President Clinton's version of "sex, lies and videotape," declaring the controversial airing of his grand jury testimony today off-limits to the city's 48,000 students.
"We don't know what's on there or whether it's appropriate for children," said Andy Maddigan, school district spokesman. "We've been warned it's going to contain off-color content."
A memo went out to teachers and principals Friday saying that the 4 1/2 hours of videotape, which began about 9 a.m. on several cable channels, is not to be shown in classrooms. Teachers also were told not to make copies for later viewing or allow radio broadcasts.
"We don't want anything within earshot of a child," Maddigan said.
The district decided to head off any problems when it became concerned that the grand jury videotape would have the same air of anticipation as a presidential funeral or a major spacecraft launch.
Maddigan said he was alerted to the great interest generated by the tape when a Toronto reporter called to ask whether he could come to Buffalo and observe students viewing Clinton's painful testimony.
"We had no knowledge any teacher was planning to show it, but it is a TV event," he said.
The district made no similar effort to block Internet access to the racy report of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr when it hit the World Wide Web last week.
Maddigan said it would have been impossible to look over the shoulders of every student signed on to a computer. "We are certain there are kids on the internet who could watch, but the extent where teachers can have some control, we'll do so," he said.
News Staff Reporter Barbara O'Brien contributed to this article.