Eighth-grade Sykesville Middle School students heard a racial slur repeated multiple times during a virtual orientation Wednesday.
Carey Gaddis, spokesperson for Carroll County Public Schools, confirmed the incident and said someone participating in the orientation “repeated the N-word several times. They did not offer any other words or comments.”
Gaddis said the school system is still investigating the incident that happened during an event hosted by Century High School.
“We have been able to determine thus far that it was not anyone affiliated with the school system — students or staff,” she said in an email.
Gaddis said later in an email the school system does not believe they were hacked, but instead think “it might have been a sound bite from a song that was played repeatedly.”
Brian Booz, principal of Century High School, said the person responsible did not have a CCPS student email.
“That will not be tolerated in this system,” Superintendent Steve Lockard said. He said CCPS would follow disciplinary actions “to the fullest extent.”
He added CCPS works on building a community that celebrates cultural diversity and an orientation for middle school students is meant to be exciting.
Lockard said the incident is “disappointing for us.”
The superintendent also addressed the incident at the board of education meeting Wednesday night apologizing to the students who endured it and noted that he has consulted with law enforcement during the investigation.
Students and parents were present during the virtual event where middle schoolers were learning what to expect when they attend high school.
Parents of eighth grade students received a letter from acting principal Kristi Reppe that day acknowledging the incident and asking if students who have information about what happened to contact the office.
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Last school year, about 4% of CCPS’ student population was Black. Black students recently shared with the Times incidents of classmates asking to touch their hair, make racist jokes and casually use the N-word.