Clackamas high schools' orientation days derailed by slurs
North Clackamas' virtual school year screeched to a halt after a "small number" of anonymous students used racial slurs and engaged in other inappropriate behavior, administrators say.
North Clackamas School District Superintendent Matt Utterback ordered all high schools to suspend online opening days activities on Wednesday, Sept. 9, saying the anonymous students had violated pupils' right to feel safe. Activites that were not broadcast live were not canceled, however.
"Over this week, several students have used racist words, including the n-word, both verbally and in the chatbox feature. Students have also used other inappropriate language, caused disruptions, and have dressed inappropriately," Utterback said in a letter to parents obtained by Pamplin Media Group.
"Let me be clear," he continued. "This behavior is not appropriate and will result in disciplinary consequences."
NCSD had planned a week's worth of orientation activities to smooth the transition to remote learning required across Oregon for at least the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
But the soft start went awry during large virtual orientation meetings — when some students apparently logged on anonymously and began intentionally disrupting activities.
Utterback said these disruptions should abate in the smaller classroom settings that began Monday, Sept. 14, saying that students cannot attend classes anonymously. Teachers will receive additional training in order to tamp down on disruptions, the superintendent said.
District spokesman Jonathan Hutchison told Pamplin Media that live orientation events at the middle and elementary school level continued as planned.
In a separate letter, also dated Sept. 9, Clackamas High School Principal Nate Munoz admitted to parents that the Google Meet program used for orientation days had become a "platform for hate," but said Google Classroom should provide a safer environment for day-to-day learning, as teachers can mute or eject disruptive students, if necessary.
"In an open setting, like the last few days, we were not readily able to control the chat and mute features," he said.
Munoz said all students are required to use their real name and a recent photo in their school Google email and profile.
"I was very sad for our students and family members that were impacted in such a negative manner. I will also state that I am very proud that we had students and family members that chose not to be silent and report these incidents," Munoz said. "I cannot thank you enough for your courage to rise up against hate."
According to Hutchison, students also made inappropriate comments at Sabin-Schellenberg and Rex Putnam high schools, leading to suspension of their orientation activites as well.
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