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School Employee Arrested After Fake, Racist Recording of Principal Spread| GuyWhoKnowsThings

The athletic director of a Baltimore-area high school was arrested Thursday after he used artificial intelligence software, police said, to fabricate a racist and anti-Semitic audio clip in which he posed as the school's principal. .

Dazhon Darien, Pikesville High School's athletic director, fabricated the recording, including a rant about “ungrateful black kids who can't get out of a paper bag,” in an effort to defame the principal, Eric Eiswert, according to the Police Department. Baltimore County.

The fake recording, which was posted on Instagram in mid-January, spread quickly and went viral. Baltimore County Public Schools, which is the 22nd largest school district in the country serving more than 100,000 students. As the district investigated, Eiswert, who denied making the comments, was inundated with threats to his safety, police said. He also was placed on administrative leave, the school district said.

Now Mr. Darien faces charges that include disrupting school operations and stalking the principal.

Eiswert referred a request for comment to a directors' trade group, the Supervisory and Administrative Employees Council, which did not return a reporter's call. Darién, who posted bail Thursday, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Baltimore County case is just the latest sign of escalating AI abuse in schools. Many cases include deepfakes or digitally altered videos, audio or images that can appear convincingly real.

Since last fall, schools across the United States have been scrambling to address troubling deepfake incidents in which male students used AI “nudification” apps to create fake nude images of their female classmates, some of them high school students. only 12 years old. The Baltimore County deepfake voice incident points to another AI risk for schools across the country, this time for veteran educators and district leaders.

Deepfake revenge slander can occur in any workplace, but it is a particularly disturbing specter for school officials charged with protecting and educating children. A Baltimore County official warned Thursday that the rapid spread of new generative artificial intelligence tools was overtaking school protections and state laws.

“We are also entering a new and deeply troubling frontier,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said during public comments on Thursday's arrest. He added that community leaders needed to “look more broadly at how this technology can be used and abused to harm other people.”

The police account of the Baltimore County case shows how quickly pernicious deepfake misinformation can spread in schools, causing lasting harm to educators, students and families.

According to police documents, Darien developed a grievance against Eiswert in December after the principal began investigating him. Mr. Darien had authorized a district payment of $1,916 to his roommate, police said, “under the pretext” that the roommate was working as an assistant coach for the Pikesville girls' soccer team.

Shortly after, police said, Darien used the school district's Internet services to search for artificial intelligence tools, including OpenAI, the developer of the ChatGPT chatbot, and Microsoft's Bing Chat.

(The New York Times defendant OpenAI and its partner, Microsoft, in December, for copyright infringement of news content related to AI systems).

In mid-January, Darien emailed a fake audio clip posing as the principal to him and two other high school employees, according to police. The email, with the subject “Pikesville Principal – Disturbing Recording,” was sent from a Gmail account that appeared to belong to an unknown third party but was linked to Mr. Darien's cell phone number, according to police documents.

One of those school employees then sent the fabricated recording to news organizations and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, according to police documents. He also sent it to a student who he “knew would quickly spread the message on various social media outlets and throughout the school,” the documents say.

Soon, an Instagram account that tracks local crime posted the fake racist audio, saying it was a “rant about black students” and naming the principal as the speaker. The audio clip, which lasts less than a minute, was shared more than 27,000 times and generated more than 2,800 comments, many of which called for the director to be fired.

Police say the deepfake rant had “profound repercussions,” testing trust among Pikesville High families, teachers and administrators.

Upset and angry parents and students flooded the school with calls. Some teachers, police said, feared that “recording devices had been placed in various locations around the school.” To address safety concerns, the Police Department increased its presence at the school.

Police also provided security surveillance for Mr. Eiswert, who received a barrage of harassing messages and phone calls, some of which threatened him and his family with violence.

In public comments during a school board meeting in January, William Burke, executive director of the Supervisory and Administrative Employees Council, which represents the principal, said social media and the media had allowed commentators to condemn Mr. . Eiswert without “proof and any responsibility.”

“Please don't be too quick to judge,” Mr. Burke pleaded. “Please make the investigation safe and fair.”

Two outside experts who later analyzed the recording for the Baltimore County Police Department concluded that the audio clip was manipulated. One expert said it contained “traces of AI-generated content with after-the-fact human editing,” police documents say.

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