Chesterfield principal condemns ‘extremely racist language’ shared by hackers in virtual classrooms

Virginia

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Unknown users are racially taunting students in virtual classrooms at Manchester High School.

The claim comes following an email sent to parents Thursday night, from Manchester High School Principal Christin Ellis, who wrote that a person verbally attacked a group of virtual students.

The email referenced two separate incidents that occurred on Tuesday, September 22 and Wednesday, September 23. The person gained access to log-in information to disrupt classes with ‘extremely racist language.’

“I am writing today to be transparent about several incidents that have occurred recently that we are working to address and to ask for your help in making sure our students understand behavior expectations while they are in our virtual learning environment,” Ellis said. “The language and racism used in these disruptive verbal attacks were very disturbing and unsettling to the teachers and students who experienced them.”

A similar situation happened in a virtual classroom at Thomas Dale High School two weeks ago. Candis Ingram is the parent of a senior at Manchester High School. He says he receives a flood of emails daily.

“I get a lot of emails but this one caught my eye,” Ingram said.

Ingram, a member of the Chesterfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also volunteers frequently at Manchester High School.

“As a parent, a citizen, especially the racial motivation, I feel like that takes it to an entire another level of disturbing,” he said. “Students of color are having to live through this just to go to school.”

According to Ingram, parents were told to remind students to conceal their passwords but are counting on Chesterfield County Public Schools to come up with a solution.

“I feel like the teachers and students are already overburdened and the burden is now continuing to be placed on them to keep these virtual classrooms safe and to prevent these incidents from happening,” said Ingram. “But I think that burden should be on the county to protect the integrity of the virtual classrooms.

“Their jobs are to teach and learn, not to provide security in virtual classrooms. That’s leadership’s responsibility.”

Moving forward, the school says they’re working with Google to use new tools that will allow greater access control to the class session meetings.

It’s a move Principal Ellis applauds.

“We hope that these measures will make it more difficult for anyone attempting to join a class where they are not authorized to gain access,” he said.

According to Ellis, racism and hate speech is not tolerated at Manchester High School or in Chesterfield County Public Schools. A student caught using log-in information that is not their own to disrupt a class, or who are caught sharing log-in information with others, will have their computer access locked until a conference can be completed with the parent and student and a disciplinary plan can be established.

A student caught disrupting a class using racist language and/or hate speech may also be recommended for long term suspension.

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