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Districts Respond To E-Learning Interruptions Exposing Students To Inappropriate Content And Messages

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Parents trying to navigate through this new norm by having their kids do this remote learning is challenging enough— and then this?

It was a shock for many. This morning, two local school districts are working to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Starting today at the Trinity Area School District, teachers will be posting assignments in another location for students working remotely. For now, they'll be postponing live instruction.

It was on Wednesday morning when the district says a security breach happened during a 5th-grade cyber class and in two virtual classrooms at the high school.

The district says these "hackers" were able to put offensive, racial, and inappropriate comments, plus there are reports of a possible pornographic image. They say police are conducting a criminal investigation.

"We've already had our discussion, and it pushed us to do it. We weren't ready. I felt that right was taken away from my daughter," said Amanda Klages, a Trinity Area parent.

RELATED: Online Classes In Pittsburgh Public Schools And Trinity Area School District Interrupted By Inappropriate Videos And Messages


"There was an apparent security breach in a 5th grade Cyber Classroom at Trinity West Elementary this morning. The elementary principal phoned each parent of the students who were logged in to this specific virtual classroom. There were also security breaches in two virtual classrooms at the high school. The "hacker" got into the virtual classroom and was able to introduce offensive racial and other inappropriate comments. There is a report of an alleged pornographic image as well. The police are actively conducting a criminal investigation and Trinity Area will prosecute those found to be responsible to the fullest extent of the law. Fortunately, our teachers were able to end the sessions and gather evidence to share with the police and administration.

We are currently in contact with Zoom to understand how this breach could occur and what can be done to trust this platform again. On Thursday, teachers will begin posting assignments, recordings, and activities in Canvas for those students working remotely. We will postpone live instruction until this issue is resolved. Parents should expect more details soon.

Parents, please talk to your children about appropriate internet use. Make sure your child reports anything strange or unusual to you and their teachers immediately. If you have any information to help us with the criminal investigation, please contact your building principal or the police.

Students and parents should know that the local authorities and Trinity staff are tracking IP addresses to identify where messages or images originated. Everyone should be reminded that this is a serious crime.

We are disappointed, but we will not give up. Our teachers have worked too hard to let the criminal actions of one or two stop us from safely teaching students remotely."

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Public School District reports that inappropriate video was embedded into a link of an educational video on Safe YouTube. This happened in an Early Childhood classroom. The link was supposed to contain a nursery rhyme.

Pittsburgh Public says the "Safe YouTube" website has since been blocked indefinitely from district devices.

"But I grabbed it from her and I looked at it and I'm like wait a minute. And I looked at it and I said oh my god," said Brenda Duckett, a Pittsburgh Public parent.

Both schools are disappointed in what happened and that's why they're also asking its students if you notice something is not right, alert parents, and the district immediately.


"This morning, we took immediate action upon notification of an inappropriate video that was embedded in the link of an educational video on Safe YouTube. A teacher posted the link in an early childhood classroom dashboard on Schoology. The link, which was supposed to contain a counting nursery rhyme, included inappropriate content. This is unacceptable.

In speaking with other districts across the country, we are very aware of the thousands of cyberattacks that are hitting our schools across the nation and we want our families, students, parents, and educators to feel safe during E-Learning. As a result, the Safe YouTube website is blocked indefinitely from District devices and we will continue to monitor internal and external dashboard conversations as it is related to E-Learning.

Even as educators, we are still learning ourselves and vow to continually make sure cybersecurity is a priority. Parents and staff are encouraged to take action as well. If you see something, say something. We are here to make E-Learning accessible and digitally responsible for all families."

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