Administration continues to investigate offensive, inappropriate usernames on Kahoot



The usernames “allahuakbar,” “smd hoé” and “I hate blacks” were projected on the board in a junior math class during a game of Kahoot. Administrators are currently investigating the source of these usernames.

Sofia Georgaklis, Sports Managing Editor

The administration is still investigating the source of offensive usernames displayed during a game of Kahoot in a junior math class on March 4, according to Headmaster Deborah Holman.

“Unfortunately, we have not yet identified the student responsible for the incident, since it was a tricky technology violation that makes it even more difficult to investigate, so the investigation continues,” Holman said.

Holman said that a student who felt that they may have had a possible involvement in the incident has come forward, but is not going to be punished. The administration is currently working with this student so they understand the great impact the incident had on the high school community.

“They’re not the student who wrote the offensive language, but they were a really mature and thoughtful student who felt they may have been connected with making this happen with technology use,” Holman said. “The student feels awful about their possible part.”

According to Holman, if offensive speech is said in a classroom, teachers are to stop the class, call a dean or department head and keep students in the classroom until an administrator arrives so that it can addressed in the moment. This was added to the classroom protocols last summer, Holman said.

“The dean team, Mr. Mason and I tightened this protocol over the summer, then we trained teachers on it at the beginning of the year and reminded teachers of it in March,” Holman said. “The department heads, who are the supervisors for all the teachers, brought it up in March at a department meeting. In the rare cases at Brookline High School that something goes wrong or there’s offensive speech used, you hold the class until the dean can get there.”

Butchart said he thinks it was difficult for the teacher to hold the class because of the chaos that comes with the end of the school day.

“People are already getting up, closing their bags and shuffling about making a racket,” Butchart said. “I think that mini-chaos feel made it harder to achieve the ideal control of the situation.”

Butchart said that when something offensive is said, it is important that teachers acknowledge and do not minimize the impact of the event.

“I think the articulation of the word in and of itself is enough to be qualified as a bad thing, intent aside,” Butchart said.  “The impact matters. The intent of a kid who says, ‘Oh, I was joking around, he’s my friend,’ or ‘I didn’t mean it,’ is less relevant than the impact, both on the individual who takes it in and the community, the small community of the classroom or the larger community of the school.”

According to a student in the class, the math teacher did not acknowledge the event to the entire class until the following Monday when the deans came to talk to the students.

The math teacher involved declined to comment.

Butchart said he believes that teachers at the high school do not receive adequate training in classroom management.

“Most people who are hired here are experienced teachers to a certain extent and have received a lot of training in their previous places or in school,” Butchart said. “Do I think it’s enough? No. At the same time, I, who have been here teaching for 40 years, am still surprised by events or situations I’ve never encountered before. So, that’s the hard part about teaching. You never can be ready for everything.”

According to Butchart, it is difficult for a consensus on classroom protocols to be reached due to the large number of teachers at the high school, as well as the coming and going of many staff members.

“We hope to achieve a certain unanimity of response to certain situations here, but I think we’re always, as teachers come and go, some retire and some are new. It’s hard to always be sure that we have the same sort of quality control across 300 adults and whatever number of classes per day,” said Butchart.

According to Butchart, there has been much discussion among administration regarding new training programs for teachers at the high school. The administration is currently undertaking training having to do with better understanding the nature of racial diversity and equity.

“The training has to do with how to better both understand what it means, from both the perspective of majority and minority kids, which is hard to understand both sides simultaneously, and to respond better,” Butchart said.

Butchart said that he believes the incident that took place in the math class was handled appropriately, considering the circumstances.

“In the Kahoot thing, I don’t think the teacher could have handled it better,” Butchart said. “I’m not sure because I’m not sure our protocol – keep the kids in the room, call the dean – was implementable in this case because of what was going on, the multiple activities in the classroom and the end of the day. I don’t know if any of us would have been able to think quick enough to say, ‘pause, sit, and call the dean.’ That strikes me as a real challenge for the very best of us.”