Investigation launched to ID person who logged into Greenwich summer school Google Meet class, posted racist slur

Greenwich Schools summer school parents received a letter Tuesday morning about a troubling incident that took place while students were engaged in distance learning.

On July 9 an individual logged into a teacher’s Google Meet class under the guise of registered students and used the “N-word” repeatedly.

“This was inappropriate and disrespectful to the teacher and the students in the class,” wrote summer school coordinator Garfield Charles, who is an Assistant Dean Of Students and advisor to the Diversity Awareness Club at Greenwich High School.

Mr. Charles said that all the parents and students of the class had been informed of the incident, an investigation is underway, and that disciplinary action will be sought after for the perpetrator(s) of the incident are identified.

Teachers are reinforcing the “Acceptable Use and Internet Safety Agreement” and do have the ability to mute or exit any student who is engaging in inappropriate behavior in class.

Mr. Charles said when the district moves to Google Enterprise, there will be additional safeguards for both the students and teachers to ensure that no one can use another link to enter a classroom.

While the racial slur may be an isolated incident, it comes amid an outcry in Greenwich against systemic racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd in May. This June #blacklivesmatter protests were led by youth. About 300 students participated in an 8.46 mile “March for Floyd” that was organized by two GHS sophomore boys.

Recent open letters from recent GHS graduates have suggested the district hire more teachers of color, do more to hold students accountable for racist behaviors, and update curriculum. In her June 26 letter, Nina Hirai, a member of the Greenwich High School Class of ‘19 wrote, “The amount of times the n-word would be shouted across the hall in a ~63% white school is absurd and quite frankly should have been a mathematical impossibility.”

Reached by email Tuesday, director of communications for the school district Sasha Houlihan wrote, “As with all disciplinary measures, our administration is investigating the situation and will bring any disciplinary actions forward. In these types of instances, law enforcement is notified and GPD has been notified.”

Houlihan said the district cannot discuss an individual’s actions or disciplinary actions for privacy reasons.

However, she said the administration immediately began investigating the situation thoroughly the day it was reported to ensure the perpetrator is disciplined accordingly, and to ensure it won’t happen again.