ESD to tighten online security after MTHS online class hacked by unknown suspect using racial slur

An unknown suspect hacked into a Mountlake Terrace High School Zoom lesson Tuesday and posted racial slurs during the meeting, according to school administrators.

In a statement sent to parents Tuesday, Principal Greg Schellenberg said an unknown non-student accessed the meeting’s messaging function and repeatedly posted the N-word during the online lesson.

“The teacher and students in this class were very upset by what happened today, as am I,” he said.

Schellenberg said the incident is being treated as an act of hate speech and the school is working with the district’s information technology (IT) department and the superintendent’s office.

In his statement, Schellenberg denounced the hacker’s actions and said that the racial slurs used do not represent what the school stands for.

“We are committed to being an anti-racist institution, and to meeting the needs of all members of our learning community,” he said. “We have work to do to ensure that we live up to these commitments in this online learning environment.”

Schellenberg said an administrator will be present during the class that was hacked for the remainder of this week.

Since the district began using Zoom for remote learning last spring, the IT department has been working to create a safe online environment. In addition to Zoom’s built-in security features — Waiting Room and Locking a Room —  the district is preparing to implement settings that further restrict meetings to district students, said district spokesperson Harmony Weinberg.

“We will be doing some testing later this week, so we can communicate clear instructions for our families and students before this change is made districtwide,” she said.

–By Cody Sexton

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