BROOKFIELD — School board meetings will work a little differently after a lewd video was posted during a special meeting last week.

“An unidentified person(s) used inappropriate, vulgar language and shared a lewd video,” the district said in a statement after the meeting. “We apologize for any embarrassment or personal affront that this may have caused for any viewer.”

The meeting was halted and later resumed with only the board members and some school officials participating on Zoom. The public had to watch the remainder of the meeting livestreaming on the district’s YouTube channel and email public comments, which were read by chairwoman Rosa Fernandes.

Fernandes said she was shocked and annoyed by “the vulgar comments and videos” but everyone was able to handle it professionally.

“What is more upsetting is knowing so many families with young children were watching,” she said. “I feel so sorry that while trying to listen to and learn about important local issues, they were subjected to that kind of pathetic grasp for attention.”

She said the community has been understanding and supportive.

“I’ve seen some concern on social media regarding the safety of using Zoom but really, people get it,” Fernandes said. “What happened was a really unfortunate aspect of this new world we all live in but we will adapt and I am so fortunate everyone is more than understanding of that.”

The rest of the board’s virtual regular, special and committee meetings will be livestreamed on YouTube instead of allowing everyone into the Zoom meeting to prevent another disruption like this from happening, officials said.

Residents will now send their public comments to the email address listed on the meeting notices and agendas before the meeting starts. The email address, along with the link to the livestream, will also be shared on the district’s website.

“Speaking at a public meeting is one of the most powerful tools for effecting change in your local community and we have to and want to ensure people still have that avenue for communication,” Fernandes said.

Brookfield is not alone in these types of incidents. Local governments across the country have reported similar so-called “Zoombombings,” which happen because the virtual meetings are accessible to anyone, just as a regular in-person meeting would be.

This openness was a key part of the gubernatorial executive order that moved municipal public meetings from in-person to online as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Brookfield has been using Zoom and posting log-in information on the agendas for their meetings. People aren’t required to have a Zoom account to access it.

“Similar to other town meetings, efforts to be openly inclusive precluded the use of restrictive Zoom control tools,” the district said.

After concerns about using Zoom in the classroom following its misuse during a town meeting, officials said the platform is used differently for public meetings and for educational purposes. Links for any education instruction on Zoom aren’t shared publicly, they said, and teachers use the safety features.

“We selected Zoom for instructional purposes during the spring because of the teaching/instructional components available for safely and efficiently managing instruction as compared to the features that were available on other platforms at that time,” the district said. “Importantly, we had no incidents in district during distance learning this spring associated with the use of Zoom.”

The district also uses Google Meet and Google Hangouts, though Zoom offers more control, according to the district. Teachers were also trained on Zoom and tutorial videos were posted for families to watch on how to use it.

“The free version of Google Meet and Google Hangouts available to the district does not offer the same tools and safety controls for classroom management that Zoom does, including participant waiting rooms, admission approval, breakout rooms, annotations, microphone control, and participant removal,” the district said.

School officials said they are continually looking at different platforms and upgrades.

kkoerting@newstimes.com