DOVER — A video of Dover High School students singing a song in class with the refrain “Let’s kill all the blacks,” has gone viral in the community, leaving many residents aghast and wondering how it could have happened.

The video surfaced over the weekend and had school and district administrators early Monday morning scrambling to investigate what occurred and what their plan will be to address it.

In a letter to the school district community Monday morning, Superintendent William Harbron called the event “an incident of extreme racial insensitivity. While the incident was part of a classroom assignment dealing with the reconstruction period in American history, the impact was harmful,” he wrote.

Harbron told Foster’s the song was sung by students in an 11th grade U.S. history class studying the period following the Civil War. “They were given an assignment to select some event during reconstruction and to make a jingle out of it,” he said. The students selected the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacy group that began during reconstruction, and the teens wrote lyrics about what they learned to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” In the minute or so long video, what appears to be two students singing the song to the class and eliciting laughs. The students did not know they were being recorded, Harbron said.

Harbron and DHS Principal Peter Driscoll said Monday they do not believe the students had any malicious intent and were addressing the assignment as given to them. But whether the assignment was appropriate and whether the students’ work was vetted along the way will be part of the review process, the school officials said. Harbron said with the benefit of hindsight, the educator could have stopped the song in the vetting process, or stopped it when the students were singing it and led a discussion of why it was not appropriate.

Whether the students or educator will be disciplined was not immediately decided. “We’re still trying to sort it out at this point,” Harbron said Monday morning. “Right now it’s getting the message out about what occurred, what we need to do differently, what can we learn from this, and how do we change our practices from the lessons learned so that everybody feels accepted and wanted here.”

Harbron said the first course of action is to have conversations with students and staff. The Dover district administration this year has been working with New Hampshire Listens, a civic engagement group initiated by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, to aid administrators in uncovering biases they may not be aware of and how they might be affecting others in the district. Once the administrators are trained, the plan is to help train faculty members.

However, in light of the video, Harbron and Driscoll were working with New Hampshire Listens to meet with the class where the song was created, followed by discussions with the student body and faculty. Once those are complete, administrators plan to work on organizing broader community discussions.

“You have to be able to understand the impact of your words on other people," Driscoll said.