Email with racist, vulgar language sent to high school students, parent upset at delayed notification

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SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — A disturbing email sent to dozens of students in Isle of Wight County is under investigation by the school district.

The message contained racist, homophobic and vulgar language, however, parents weren’t immediately notified about it.

The district said the email was sent from another school-issued email account that was hacked.

10 On Your Side spoke to a Smithfield High School parent who said the delay in communication is unacceptable. 

The troubling email is too graphic to show, but it contained a repeated run-on sentence that used racial and homophobic slurs and referenced a hate group.

Michael Cromartie said he learned of the email from his daughter, who attends Smithfield High School.

“I asked her to screenshot and send it to me and I, too, was concerned,” he said.

After seeing the email himself, Cromartie contacted the school administration — but to his surprise, the principal already knew.

“What I found despicable was there was no attempt to notify parents that something this egregious has taken place,” Cromartie said. “They had the teacher send an email to the class indicating that another student’s account had been hacked.”

An Isle of Wight County Schools spokeswoman confirmed a teacher notified students and said about 90 students received the email late Tuesday night.

An investigation was immediately launched, and the technology director worked through the night to stop the emails, the division said.

The district said a student’s account was hacked.

The principal notified parents via email on Thursday.

Dear Parents / Guardians, 

On Tuesday, January 5, 2021, a student at Smithfield High School had their school-issued email account hacked.  Due to this invasion, several students received vulgar and despicable emails from this account.  We do know that the emails were not a product of the student from whose account the messages were sent. 

Smithfield High School is working closely with the division’s technology department to identify the source of the content and to review possible causes for this breach.  

I deeply apologize for the disgraceful content that was shared with numerous individuals through this incident. As always, If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. 

Cromartie said the delayed notification shouldn’t have happened.

“I would’ve expected that something this appalling — especially with the times we are in now — something this appalling, parents would’ve been made aware that it was out there,” he said. “It’s a simple ask: better communication.”

The district said it’s working to identify the source of the hack and reviewing security measures. We’re also told police have been notified.

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