If there’s one thing we could all have taken away from the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker trial, is that all digital communication with coworkers have records, so think before you type. Several teachers at a Rhode Island charter school, the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, learned that the hard way when an email hack leaked chat screenshots in which the educators disparaged or flat-out insulted their students. Slack, a chat software and file sharing service which was once used primarily by online publishers and tech companies, is now being used across a wide variety of industries, including teaching.
First thing Monday morning, students, faculty and staff at the charter school received a mass email from a teacher who claimed to have had her account hacked, with a link to a Google Doc that contained a whopping 18 pages of Slack screenshots. One 16-year-old student, Hudson Deighan, was horrified to see her name in the transcripts.
“Here’s how Hudson spelled Ta-Nehisi Coates: Tonahese quotes,” wrote her trusted teacher mentor on June 14, just after their weekly meeting together, to which another responded, “[expletive] idiot.” Hudson later told the Providence Journal: “When I saw my name I just started crying. I thought I was straightforward with him and he’d be straightforward with me. But I guess he just doesn’t like me, and I guess none of the teachers like me at all.”
Some of the other excerpts that were leaked were even meaner, lambasting both students and parents.
“Man I wish we could hit them,” writes one teacher. Another responds, “Move to Arizona. Though really no school districts allow, by state law you are allowed to. Start your own charter and commence with the flogging.” She responds: “lol”
“Did you ever hear from Hudson’s mom?” asks one teacher. “I did not,” responded another. “What a loser. Truly. There is more to success than where you go to school. Clearly Columbia doesn’t provide access to parenting programs, or if they do, she didn’t take advantage,” he writes back.
“Lying [expletive] scum,” writes one teacher of a failing student’s parent, using a Spanish curse word. She continued, in all caps, “I CANNOT WITH HER I HOPE HER STUPID SON FAILS ALL OF HIS CLASSES.”
“HE IS FAILING FIVE CLASSES,” writes one teacher. Another responds, “[Expletive]IDIOT. Let him know if he [expletive] up again he will be in my HR. And I will not be so pleasant.”
So far, three teachers have resigned in the wake of the scandal, though more were possibly involved. The school’s director of external affairs says that they are currently conducting an internal investigation into the matter.