The first day of online classes at a North Carolina school was memorable for all the wrong reasons after a hacker disrupted a lesson with offensive content.
Virtual classes, taught via Google Meet, began at Lee County High School, Sanford, on Monday, August 17, as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Students who logged on to a virtual Spanish class were shown racist, violent, and pornographic content by an unknown person who gained access to the lesson. The upsetting incident was witnessed by parents, a teacher, and around 20 students in the 10th grade.
Mom Shauna Roberts, who was watching her daughter’s computer screen as the cyber-attack unfolded, said she was shocked by what she saw.
“There were pictures of Nazi symbols. They were showing videos of African Americans being shot,” said Roberts.
“There were also pictures of Donald Trump along with the KKK that were popping up. It was just disturbing all the way together.”
According to Roberts, the prolonged attack lasted around 30 minutes and included the recital of racist slurs. She said parents, alerted to the incident, tried to protect their children from what was happening.
“You could actually see parents coming into the camera seeing the content as well. You could see a couple of parents actually making their kids move away from their computer so they could see what was going on,” said Roberts.
“I think it’s just sad that our children are supposed to be online learning, but they are being exposed to this type of content.”
In a statement given to WRAL News, Lee County High School wrote: “It appears that this was an inadvertent approval of an outside address requesting access; however, the incident is currently under investigation by both law enforcement and the district’s technology department. We take the security of online classes very seriously and are reviewing all protocols to make sure this does not happen again.”
Similar problems occurred at Oberlin Magnet Middle School on Tuesday, and at Millbrook Magnet High School in Raleigh, online lessons in Google Meet were disrupted by a group of students who “used inappropriate and offensive language as well as insulted students and teachers directly.”