KLINE TOWNSHIP, Penn. — A kindergarten orientation turned into a virtual nightmare for parents and children when the Zoom meeting was hacked and spammed with pornography and threatening messages, WBRE reported.
The incident has some parents questioning if virtual learning is really safe. Ariela Colon and her daughter had just logged into their virtual kindergarten orientation for McAdoo-Kelayers Elementary School Thursday morning, when unknown hackers entered the Zoom meeting.
“While we were waiting for everything to start, all of a sudden it began,” Colon said.
She and her daughter heard a male voice using racial slurs and foul language.
“My daughter was like ‘what’s going on mom why is my school doing that?’ I had to send her away,” Colon said.
Then, she said the user’s screen showed a man’s genitals and started playing adult pornography.
“Then they started messaging us in the chat saying that he was going to rape our children and dropping the F bomb and talking about Mexicans,” Colon said.
Hazleton Area School District Superintendent, Brian Uplinger was on the Zoom feed when the incident occurred. He said it went on for about four minutes before he got ahold of the host to kick the hackers out. In that time 25-30 people, including children were exposed to obscene images and language.
“The damage was already done. The comments, the intolerable acts that these individuals perpetrated on kindergartners and kindergarten parents is absolutely absurd,” Uplinger said.
Uplinger called all the families and apologized for the incident. Colon said what she and her daughter saw was disturbing, but she’s more afraid of what the hackers saw.
“He’s seen us, so I don’t know if my daughter is safe when it’s time to go back to school,” Colon said.
Now she’s worried hackers could get personal information, or try to contact her daughter when she’s not around. She voiced her concerns at the school board meeting that night. Uplinger said they use Microsoft 356 for virtual classes. He said its more secure.
“They can only get in with a district email and district password,” Uplinger said.
He said state police are investigating and the district will prosecute to fullest extent of the law.
Uplinger said multiple unidentified people hiding behind vulgar usernames and a black screen hacked the meeting. He said on the Microsoft 365 platform, students can only communicate with the teacher, not with each other.
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