75ºF

Man zooms into virtual Orange County class during distance learning, exposes himself

Officials say authorities, school administration ‘handled the situation’

ORLANDO, Fla. – A man gained access to the online learning session of an Orange County public school class and exposed himself, according to a memo from the school district.

The memo, sent Wednesday, said that a man entered a virtual Zoom instructional session and exposed himself. A Connect Orange message was sent to the parents of the eighth grade students at Wolf Lake Middle School who were affected.

The Apopka Police Department confirmed they received a report related to the incident and are actively investigating. The department has not said if a suspect has been identified, but told News 6 at this time, no arrests have been made.

Alexis Neely told News 6 her son was in the online classroom that suffered the hack.

"He said that was a really weird class and disgusting," said Neely.

Neely said she can’t believe what her 14-year-old son was forced to see during his virtual math class Wednesday.

“He told me that when they were in class, all of a sudden, a man came on the screen who was naked and had exposed himself to all the kids,” Neely said.

She said she hopes her son never has to experience what he saw again and that she wants to see changes by the district.

“He said he didn’t want to talk about it because he just didn’t want to relive the memories or the images,” Neely said. “Fingers crossed that the other stuff they’re using will be a lot better.”

Authorities and the school administration “handled the situation," according to the memo, but no other details have been released.

“Zoom is not a district supported application and the district has strongly encouraged teachers to use district supported applications such as Big Blue Button and Canvas for their video conferencing needs,” an Orange County spokesperson said.

News 6 reached out to other Central Florida public school districts to request information on what precautions are being taken to ensure student safety while distance learning.

Marion County public school officials said the Chromebooks given to students and staff have filters that prevent access to inappropriate content, but that the district has no access to the controls of third-party platforms like Zoom and what the device camera may capture.

Osceola County public school officials said students and teachers are using Microsoft Teams for distance learning, and have not had reports of any inappropriate activity on any devices.

Brevard County public school officials said they have sked teachers not to do live video sessions.

“Students do not control their time,” Brevard school officials said. “In this global crisis, students are accessing content at various times and on various days in alignment with the schedules of their families. We want to maintain the privacy of teachers and students, in their homes. Students who are in a live session are inherently being viewed by anyone in the households of whoever else is online.”

School officials said they have encouraged teachers to utilize a variety of voice tools and other media tools to include videos, such as Google Classroom.

Volusia County public school officials said students and teachers are using Microsoft Teams for distance learning and have not received any reports of inappropriate activity on the platform.

Lake County public school officials said teachers and students are using a program called Go Guardian for virtual learning, which filters the internet for district-issued student devices.

“This would filter out inappropriate activity in Google Docs, on the internet, through chat, etc.,” a school district spokesperson said. “Go Guardian is CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) compliant and helps us keep a safe instructional environment. Zoom and Google Meet, however, are not monitored through Go Guardian.”

Lake County district leaders said they have not received any reports of inappropriate activity.

Sumter County public school officials said the district is equipped to “content-filter students’ computers no matter where or how they are connected to the internet.”

Officials said students and teachers are using Microsoft Teams verified with class rosters to complete distance learning, and have been doing so for two years as supplemental one-on-one learning.

“Our teachers have quickly learned how to video chat with their class, make videos for their class, assign and grade work as well as provide one on one instruction where needed,” a school district spokesperson said. “Some of the features of (MIcrosoft) Teams and Office 365 is that no one from outside the district is able to open our Teams, video chat with our students or communicate through e-mail unless they have been specifically added to an allow list.”


About the Authors: