Glacier Peak High School lunchroom (Rikki King / Herald file)

Glacier Peak High School lunchroom (Rikki King / Herald file)

Racist, homophobic network names shut down school assembly

Students allegedly created Wi-Fi hotspots with offensive names during a pep rally at Glacier Peak High School.

SNOHOMISH — Two students at Glacier Peak High School are being disciplined for allegedly creating derogatory Wi-Fi names using their cellphones during a school assembly Thursday.

The names contained “highly offensive, discriminatory, divisive, inappropriate and, in some cases, racially motivated messages,” school leaders wrote in a message to parents.

A screenshot showed racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic language. Several of the Wi-Fi hotspot names were just a single swastika. At least three messages were targeted at the principal, Jeffrey Larson.

Junior Isaac Ellison was at the winter pep assembly. He said he hadn’t seen anything when the principal suddenly grabbed the microphone, said something about student safety, and sent everyone back to their classrooms.

“Everyone freaked out,” he said.

Students thought they were in danger, he said. One Wi-Fi name that popped up said “Someone shoot this up please.” Another said “Sorry don’t kill me.”

Parents worried too.

Michelle Renschler was at work when she got a text from her daughter.

“As a parent, the first thing you’re thinking is someone is going to have a gun,” she said.

School officials said the act didn’t pose any direct threat, but the network names “may have made our students feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”

The students involved will be punished according to policy, said Kristin Foley, a district spokeswoman. School officials are working with law enforcement as well.

Foley said federal privacy law prevents the district from disclosing how the students will be disciplined.

As the investigation continues, Principal Larson wrote, the school will communicate plans to address “threatening and discriminatory behaviors.”

“We will not tolerate hatred, threats, discrimination, intimidation or this type of behavior. There is no place for this in any of our schools, campuses or classrooms,” Larson wrote.

Ellison said the event wasn’t surprising. As one of the few black students at a primarily white school, he said he hears offensive remarks on a regular basis. Sometimes people think they’re just making a joke, he said, but he doesn’t think it’s funny.

“It’s hard sometimes,” he said. “You really just have to get used to it, otherwise school will pretty much be like a living hell.”

He said he hopes students and administrators will talk about racism on the campus. He said he’s helping start a new Black Student Union that could promote dialogue.

Meanwhile, parents said they will attend a Dec. 12 district board meeting to talk with school leaders about the incident.

At the very least, Ellison wants people to be a little more self-aware of their words and actions.

“If you have hurtful thoughts, just keep it to yourself,” he said.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan @heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.