The Nov. 22 Enumclaw School Board meeting barely got the ball rolling before a racial slur ground the event to a halt.
As Superintendent Shaun Carey — who is Black — was delivering his report to the public, at least two individuals on the Zoom virtual meeting platform began playing a recording of the “n” word on repeat.
“During Dr. Carey’s Superintendent’s Report, one individual on the Zoom unmuted their microphone (displayed a picture of George Floyd) and played a track with the repetitive racial slur. We were able to quickly put the individual in a waiting room,” said district Public Information Officer Jessica McCartney in an email to the Courier-Herald. “As soon as we did so, another individual with their camera on (appearing to be an elderly white male) unmuted himself and played the same track. Knowing it was more than one individual lessens the chance that this was a random ‘Zoombombing’.”
McCartney, who was managing the Zoom platform, quickly closed down the program; the board of directors then took a recess and, when they came back, announced the meeting would continue without the use of Zoom.
“Up until this moment, the district has allowed the same level of participation in both the virtual and in-person options, therefore, the District has not limited or restricted participants on school board meeting Zooms (as we do not do this for participants in-person),” McCartney continued. “In the time that we have provided this virtual participation, this is the first board zoom meeting that we have had of this kind. In addition to involving law enforcement and using the technology and personnel available to us to identify those involved in this horrid situation, we plan to review our practice and implement changes for future meetings.”
McCartney added that the Enumclaw police department is investigating the matter.
“This on-going investigation may require a number of search warrants to capture data to identify the unique addresses of the devices used to disturb the meeting,” EPD Commnader Mike Graddon said in a press release over the Nextdoor social media platform. “This case is being investigated as an intentional hate crime. Additional law violations pertaining to disturbing a school meeting and disorderly conduct are being weighed.”
In response to the incident, Carey did not mince his words.
“Regardless of whether or not this hateful act was random ‘zoombombers’, a ‘prank’, an ‘accident’, or members of our own community, the actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” he said. “We will continue to work hard to make certain that every person feels safe, respected, and valued. This isn’t always easy to do, but it is always the right thing to do.”