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School District Inadvertently Sends Elementary Students Racist Password

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By Jorge Casuso

August 20, 2020 -- School District officials issued an apology Thursday after learning that 14 elementary school students had received a computer password that could be considered racist.

The passwords -- which are used by Santa Monica and Malibu public school students to access Google learning platforms -- are created using an algorithm that randomly combines a color and an animal, District officials said.

"We could not have predicted that an easy to memorize color and animal combination for elementary students could cause this unfortunate incident," said Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati.

"Once we were made aware we immediately corrected it," he wrote in a letter sent to parents, guardians and staff on Thursday.

"We are deeply sorry this occurred and apologize to our entire community."

District spokesperson Gail Pinsker said District officials considered sharing the passowrd but decided against it.

Drati asked those who spot "a word combination that is derogatory" to inform the designated site tech worker so the password can be immediately updated.

The passwords were provided to all students "to strengthen our system and provide enhanced privacy and security," Drati said.

In the letter emailed Thursday, Drati included links to an anti-racism letter he sent on July 29. The letter outlines what the District has done over the years to counter "the impacts of racism -- conscious and unconscious, systemic and incidental."

Drati also included a link to an anti-racism resources page created by staff and posted on the District's website to support discussions related to racism and "systemic oppression."

"I hope you have seen my anti-racism letter, our anti-racism resources, and understand the importance of this work in our school district, and my personal commitment to continuously improve to eradicate systemic racism in our world," Drati's letter concludes.

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