At 8:30 a.m. on January 27, the MSJ classrooms’ digital clocks started flashing with a bright red light. The word hello scrolled across the digital clocks before Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” blared. Since the song has been used in “rickrolling” — a bait-and-switch tactic to trick someone into listening to the aforementioned song — many students and teachers thought that this was a planned prank by FUSD, who is in charge of the intercom system.
According to MSJ staff who were in contact with district officials, this occurrence was not limited to MSJ. Six of FUSD’s high schools, including MSJ, Irvington High School, Washington High School, American High School, Kennedy High School, and Robertson High School, were simultaneously affected. While this may seem entertaining at first, the incident was unauthorized and disrupted over 10,000 students and staff members within the district.
FUSD Superintendent of Schools C.J. Cammack has released a district-wide statement about the morning’s event, which can be found on the district website in addition to each high school’s individual websites. “This morning our district-wide notification system was accessed to broadcast on our intercoms during school hours. Though the broadcast was innocuous, we are not taking this unauthorized access lightly. We are working diligently to investigate this incident and mitigate future unauthorized access, and will assign consequences to the fullest extent possible, and pursue legal action as appropriate. Further, we are in the midst of ongoing work with the state officials to increase security around our notification systems and that work will continue. We apologize for the interruption and any concern this caused,” Cammack said.
The investigation is ongoing and this story will be updated as new information becomes available. Check in with the Smoke Signal as new information becomes available.
*Correction: Information about the red light normally indicating a lockdown was incorrect in its attribution to Social Science teacher Stephanie Kearns.
Graphics by Graphics Editor Sarina Li