The letter below was sent out this afternoon from the Newton North High School Principal.
Dear NNHS Students and Families,
Based on my observations in the building and in speaking with some members of our community, it seems that the first two days of school have been going as well as could be considering the crisis we are dealing with. Students and teachers have been engaged as they set up for the year. Additionally, students and teachers were able to work through the few technical issues that we are aware of. Thanks for everyone’s patience and hard work.
I am writing to you because, despite a generally successful day, yesterday we experienced three very upsetting Zoom bombing incidents that occurred in separate classes. In each of the classes, intruders were admitted into the class with false names. One of the names used sexually inappropriate language.
In two of the situations, racist comments were made.
Person using a false name stated “all Black people are trash”
Person using a false name said the N-word
All students were admitted from the waiting room. Teachers in all of these situations immediately kicked the intruders out and later communicated with students and families.
I am really at a loss for words that people would do this on the first day of school, knowing that we are all trying hard to make this situation work and we are emotionally stretched thin. Furthermore, knowing that the teachers felt attacked, these incidents are also an attack on the people of color in the classroom and in our school community.
While I do not place blame on anyone except for the intruders, we as a community need to be more vigilant to prevent these kinds of incidents. Our security measures are set up to prevent them, but it requires all of us to take responsibility as well. Most of these steps are on us as adults. Teachers will only allow students in a meeting that have an authenticated Newton Public Schools email address. Additionally, they will only admit students on their attendance list.
Also, I am asking families to speak with students to make sure that they do not change their names on Zoom. Furthermore, students should not share Zoom links with their class links with anyone else, nor should they attempt to get into a class that is not theirs. Similar to our normal rules, you are only welcome to attend classes that you are registered for.
With our authentication capabilities, we will be able to identify students who attempt to enter a class they are not signed up for. School consequences could apply for any violation of this rule.
Because of the impact of the pandemic we are experiencing varying emotions. We can either choose to be cruel and divisive or to be civil and inclusive. It is devastating that people chose to start the school year with this kind of hate-filled comments. I have seen this school rise up to its better self before, and I am confident that we can do that now.
Counselors are aware of these incidents and are available for students who were in the class. Our Deans are investigating all of the incidents. Additionally, the Newton North Office of Human Rights, Mr. Cardona, and Mr. Greenidge are working with us to address these incidents and to help our school heal from them.
Thank you for your attention on this matter.
Henry J. Turner, Ed.D
Newton North High School