A mother in Rochester, New York, Nicomi Stewart is very upset and “disgusted” after an automated call sent to her phone from her daughter’s city’s school district mispronounced her daughter’s name again, by being derogatory.

Stewart said the message said: “This is Edison Career and Technology High School. Your daughter, Nigg*r, has missed period one on…” Stewart’s daughter is named Nicarri.

Stewart said she receieved the call after Nicarri missed a day of class at Edison Career and Technology High School.

The racially insensitive robocall came more than once so Stewart was able to record the message.

“I was like, wow, am I really hearing you correctly, did the machine just say this?” Stewart said. “It was unbelievable. I was shocked. I was disgusted. I was upset.”

Stewart said what really upset her was that the robocalls correctly pronounced Nicarri’s name last year.

Although a school administrator told Stewart her daughter’s name would be removed from the automated calling system, she says she’s received at least two other calls that mispronounced her daughter’s name the same way.

“It’s disrespectful and it’s degrading. I don’t even use that word in my house, so why is my child being called this?” Stewart said.

Lawrence Bo Wright, the deputy superintendent of administration for the Rochester City School District, publicly apologized to Stewart.

“Representatives from the district have talked with the family and apologized profusely, as we should,” he said. “We can’t say enough how sorry we are.”

He blamed the issue on a software error with Blackboard Connect, a vendor it contracts with to send out mass notifications.

“It’s very similar to technologies that you use that are centered around GPS, where sometimes the system will have mispronounced a name,” Wright said. “And that’s how that occurred.”

Blackboard Connect responded with this statement:

“Blackboard Connect includes an automated text to speech [TTS] software feature that allows customers to place automated phone calls by entering text. The system automatically generates pronunciations based on typed text. In this case it appears that the system mispronounced the recipient’s child’s name, sounding like a racial slur.

“Blackboard takes this issue very seriously and we are working with the school district and our TTS vendor to correct the problem. We sincerely apologize for this very unfortunate technical issue.”

Wright promised Stewart the district would only contact the family through a phone call or email until the problem is rectified, but Stewart said she’s still receiving those calls, including one earlier this week.

“They’re making me look like I’m slightly bananas and lying about this, when they’re saying they rectified something they haven’t rectified yet,” Stewart said.

Source: Huffington Post

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