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School Employee Arrested After Racist Deepfake Recording of Principal Spreads

A high school athletic director in the Baltimore area was arrested on Thursday after he used artificial intelligence software, the police said, to manufacture a racist and antisemitic audio clip that impersonated the school’s principal.

Dazhon Darien, the athletic director of Pikesville High School, fabricated the recording — including a tirade about “ungrateful Black kids who can’t test their way out of a paper bag” — in an effort to smear the principal, Eric Eiswert, according to the Baltimore County Police Department.

The faked recording, which was posted on Instagram in mid-January, quickly spread, roiling Baltimore County Public Schools, which is the nation’s 22nd-largest school district and serves more than 100,000 students. While the district investigated, Mr. Eiswert, who denied making the comments, was inundated with threats to his safety, the police said. He was also placed on administrative leave, the school district said.

Now Mr. Darien is facing charges including disrupting school operations and stalking the principal.

Mr. Eiswert referred a request for comment to a trade group for principals, the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees, which did not return a call from a reporter. Mr. Darien, who posted bond on Thursday, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Baltimore County case is the just the latest indication of an escalation of A.I. abuse in schools. Many cases include deepfakes, or digitally altered video, 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 A.I. “nudification” apps to create fake unclothed images of their female classmates, some of them middle school students as young as 12. Now the Baltimore County deepfake voice incident points to another A.I. risk to schools nationwide — this time to veteran educators and district leaders.

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