Investigation of March Zoom Incident Reaches a “Dead End”

Investigation+of+March+Zoom+Incident+Reaches+a+%22Dead+End%22

Lucy McWeeny, Features Editor

On Monday, March first, a class at Mount Greylock Regional School was subject to a Zoom incident, or “bombing.” During this afternoon class, the perpetrator, who was likely in possession of the Zoom link, utilized the name of a student in the class to enter the “room.” The teacher then let in this person, who they thought was a student. However, after the perpetrator did not turn on their camera, the teacher asked them to identify themselves. 

Instead, the person began to play music lyrics that were “offensive on multiple fronts,” as stated in an email sent out by Principal Jake Schutz and Vice Principal Colin Shebar. “They played some music that involved a racially charged word and a very offensive and inappropriate word,” said Shebar. Schutz added, “The song did have slurs in it, so in that way it was racially insensitive.”

About ten seconds after the music started playing, the teacher removed the perpetrator from the Zoom class. Schutz said, “The reaction time was much faster than it has been, which is a good thing.” Shebar said the teacher then “immediately alerted me so I could jump right into the process of starting the investigation.”

The school launched an investigation, but the perpetrator has not yet been identified. However, the investigation did yield some information pertaining to the incident. Shebar said, “It appeared that whoever accessed our Zoom class did so out of North Carolina. This means we’re working off of the idea that most likely they used something like a VPN to redirect their IP address to show up from a different location than they are actually in.”

Because of this, Shebar said, it is difficult for the perpetrator or the device used to be tracked down. “The police have been informed and we have passed all relevant information over to them, including things like the IP address,” he said. “It’s kind of two separate investigations; the internal one here at school, and then the police do their own process as well.”

However, Superintendent Jake McCandless said, “It doesn’t appear imminent that we’ll be able to hold the individual accountable.” He added, “We just have to continue letting everybody know this is not okay.” Schutz said, “Unless somebody admits to it or comes forward with information, I think we’ve reached a dead end.”

McCandless said, “I have spoken to probably half a dozen superintendents both locally and in other parts of the state, and we’re all struggling with how to use Zoom in a way that allows it to be open, available and usable but not expose good people to horrible things.”

Following this most recent Zoom incident, a number of safety precautions have been put in place for Zoom classes. Teachers are required to see their students’ faces and students cannot unmute until they have been identified by the teacher. 

A more rigorous Zoom safety precaution will also be implemented, as described in a school-wide email from Elea Kaatz, Director of Academic Technology: “You may have a minor, but important, change in zoom experience. You will click your class zoom links (as they currently exist in Canvas), be redirected to our new vanity urls, then have to verify your ID in Google through an automatic popup. You must click your @mgrhsstudent.org account to verify your ID, only then will you be placed in the waiting room for your class. If you click your personal google account, you will not be let in (a 403 SAML error will show), you must choose your MG account.”