Hateful Images, Messages Sent To Westwood Regional Students Probed By Cyber Crime Detectives

An underage saboteur used the online account of a Westwood Regional High School student to email hateful messages to most of the victim’s classmates – among them, an image of a Ku Klux Klansman accompanied by an anti-Semitic caption, authorities said.

An image of a Ku Klux Klansman accompanied by an anti-Semitic caption was sent to students in the district.

An image of a Ku Klux Klansman accompanied by an anti-Semitic caption was sent to students in the district.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED (Anonymous)

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Cyber Crimes Unit and Washington Township police are investigating the bias incident, which district officials traced to a “non-district minor’s” IP address, Schools Supt. Jill Mortimer wrote in a message to parents and staff members.

“Please know this was not a breach of our network or system,” Mortimer emphasized. “We were not ‘hacked.’

“The individual who infiltrated a student’s account posted hostile expressions regarding religion, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender and national origin through email and Google Classroom,” the schools chief said. "[H]urtful content was directed at multiple groups/individuals (i.e. Jewish, Black, and gay people, a female employee, and an individual with a disability).

“I reported what happened to the Bergen County Office of the New Jersey Department of Education and I spoke to the [e]xecutive [c]ounty [s]uperintendent of [s]chools,” Mortimer wrote. “Moreover, I have spoken to some of my peers who have had similar experiences in neighboring districts.

“Our [d]irectors of [e]ducation are in the process of planning quality programming to address what our students witnessed and to respond to acts of hate such as this.”

Students were also encouraged to change the passwords on their district-issued devices and to reach out to staff immediately if they feel an account has been compromised in any way.

“We are sensitive to the impact this painful event has had on our student body and the WWRSD community as a whole,” Mortimer wrote. “The Board of Education and Administration hope our quick and deliberate actions demonstrate our commitment to maintaining a welcoming and positive climate for students and staff members.

“They should not have been exposed to what they witnessed on their devices, and we regret this incident took place.

“By law, the [d]istrict must let the authorities handle the investigation and should not intervene or conduct a parallel investigation,” the schools chief wrote. “Once we are given clearance by the [p]olice [d]epartment, we will conduct an investigation to determine whether any violations of WWRSD policies occurred.

“Please know we are committed to continually supporting our students and staff members,” Mortimer added. “There will not be a ‘one time’ response to what occurred.”

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