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Mount Greylock Shares Detail on Zoom Bombing, Vows Work on Anti-Racism
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
09:57PM / Thursday, February 11, 2021
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional Superintendent Jason McCandless told the School Committee on Thursday that the district had concluded its investigation into a January "Zoom bombing" incident and promised that the district will "move forward better and wiser as a school community and a community in general."
McCandless revealed that the person who intruded in a high school virtual classroom and played racially offensive music was "a young person of color," but quickly noted that the perpetrator's intent was less relevant than the impact it had on the victims.
"Whether this particular incident was based in racism or not … racism is very real," McCandless said. "Bias is very real. It exists in our communities and in every school and in every community across the nation.
"The investigation into this incident suggests that the incident was perhaps not racially motivated. … I certainly do not know what was in [the perpetrators'] mind. I do know that we must continue to work to help the young people who are close to us and young people in general understand that, in the end, an individual's motivation sometimes doesn't matter. What actually matters is how the victim of the incident perceived the motivation and the event."
McCandless said the school district continues to communicate with the student who appeared to be the primary target of the incident and their family.
And he revealed for the first time that there were two perpetrators involved in the events of Jan. 21, the student who trespassed in the virtual classroom and another student who allowed it to happen. The primary perpetrator was a student from a different school district, McCandless reiterated.
He said the school is less interested in seeing either perpetrator punished for their actions than in seeking restorative justice.
"Young people do deserve second chances, and they deserve third and fourth and fifth and sixth and seventh chances," McCandless said. "American history shows that some young people get dozens and dozens of chances, while some young people in America, often because of the color of their skin, get no second chance ever.
"We will not repeat those historical sins here in our community or in our school district. We will work to further develop restorative opportunities, opportunities to learn from mistakes and to make things right. We will continue to work to build character and empathy and understanding rather than build the resentments that come from [issuing] mere punishment and then being done and walking away."
McCandless thanked the administration at the middle-high school and the Williamstown Police Department for their roles in completing the investigation into an incident that touched off numerous conversations in the school community and the community at large.
"No matter what the ultimate outcome of this investigation was nor in the end what the motivation was, we continue to approach our work knowing full well that hate is real, bias is real, racism is real," McCandless said. "It's present in every community everywhere, in every school across the country.
"And we know that we must redouble and triple our efforts to pursue to the very end creating a more inclusive, diverse and just school system where every child and every family know that irregardless of their income level, their ability or disability, their religion, their sexual orientation, how they identify, their race, their culture, their language that they have a home here and they belong here."
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