updated 6/21/2006 7:30:54 PM ET 2006-06-21T23:30:54

Graduates and their families were stunned to see the words “Ku Klux Klan” scroll across the bottom of a jumbo video screen during a commencement ceremony, and police were investigating whether the display was intentional.

“I was sort of in shock,” said Dino Rhoades, who saw the words during the June 13 Centennial High School ceremony at the Thomas & Mack Center. “I was wondering why anyone would write that in the middle of graduation.”

Police and officials of Captions Unlimited, the company that supplied a stenographer to transcribe spoken commencement remarks, were investigating.

Lauren Kohut-Rost of the Clark County School District called the incident “appalling.”

Captions Unlimited of Reno has a contract with the school district to provide captioning services at 27 commencement ceremonies. Shawn McCusker, the company’s office manager, would not identify the employee who worked at the Centennial commencement but said a stenographer’s machine connected to a computer software program might have triggered a word from a dictionary file.

Move recalls earlier violence
Centennial was the school attended by several teenagers who used the moniker “311 Boyz” and were prosecuted for several violent attacks in 2003, including a rock attack that left a teenager permanently disfigured.

Police said “311” referred to three repetitions of the 11th letter of the alphabet, or KKK. But they said it was not clear the gang’s crimes were racially motivated.

A captioning goof at another ceremony later in the week drew a more amused response, the Las Vegas Sun reported Wednesday. A speaker described Winston Churchill’s recovery from a “severe case of pneumonia,” but it came out as a “severe case of ninjas.” McCusker declined to say whether the same employee worked both events.

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