Wilmette, News

Wilmette District 39 apologies to parents after student finds swastika on digital test

Answer published by ACT virtual learning platform, district says

A fourth-grade student within Wilmette School District 39 reported to his teacher that he came across a swastika shape while answering a geometry question on a digital test Friday, Oct. 9, according to an emailed communication from the district.   

While taking the test on ScootPad, an educational platform operated by the nonprofit organization ACT, the student was reportedly looking at answer choices to a math problem and noticed one of the multiple-choice answers was in the shape of the swastika.

The email says the student used the private chat feature in Zoom to let the teacher know of the situation. The teacher then reportedly contacted the school principal who alerted Katie S. Lee, the district’s administrator for curriculum and instruction. 

“I am grateful for the trusting relationship between this student and teacher that allowed this situation to be brought to my attention,” Lee says in the email. “However, the situation should have never happened. No one should have experienced the symbol of hate. It is wrong — no matter the context and no matter the intent. Period.” 

The image was purged from ScootPad’s system within an hour of notifying it, according to a timeline compiled by the district.

It is unclear how the image became part of the system or how long it was active. A message sent to ACT was not immediately answered. Scootpad’s website states it has more than 2 million users worldwide.

John Wannemacher, the chief marketing officer for ACT, issued a statement to District 39 in response to the incident. 

“The ScootPad platform was recently acquired by ACT Inc. and is currently undergoing a complete review of all content, including images, to verify that all of the material is appropriate,” the statement reads in part. 

“We appreciate your bringing this to our attention and want you to know we take these matters seriously. We regret that this was presented in the platform and will work to implement ACT’s content vetting process so that it does not happen again.

“We are committed to working alongside your district to ensure your students have a safe, healthy, and robust learning experience and are available for any further assistance you may need.”  

Lee concludes her message to parents by informing them that District 39 does not tolerate hate-related incidents in any form.  “We are dedicated to the Wilmette District 39’s mission and statement of inclusion,” she says.  “We do not tolerate any hate of any kind in any form. We wanted to share with you along with sending our sincerest apologies.”  

martin carlino
Martin Carlino

Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.

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