Arrest made in Manchester High School teen cyber attacks
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Nov. 21, 2013
One Manchester High School male student has been arrested for his role in posting inappropriate comments about female students on social media, according to Manchester Police. Sgt. Rob Stanford said the male was arrested on Wednesday, Nov. 20, and charged with obscenity and breach of peace. Sgt. Stanford, who is supervisor of the school resource officers at MHS, said on Thursday, Nov. 21, that there were no other plans at that time to make other arrests.
The student was one of the four MHS male students who were suspended for posting derogatory remarks about female students on social media. “They were suspended for putting onto Facebook and Twitter, inappropriate names and inappropriate or sexually explicit remarks about 17 girls,” said interim Superintendent Dr. Richard Kisiel.
The four students are all male, and although school administrators would not comment on what grade they are in, they did say the students are all upperclassmen. The boys posted the “inappropriate” remarks on social media in lists commonly referred to as “thot” lists. Thot stands for – “that ho over there.”
Dr. Kisiel said on Thursday that he had “received a recommendation to expel one student at this point” and that there was “no decision on further action with the three others.”
Manchester High School Principal Matt Geary said he first became aware of the lists on Friday, Nov. 8, around noontime. “I had a couple of students report sort of what was happening to me,” said Geary. “I asked them to take a screen shot of what they saw on Twitter and to forward it to my school e-mail, and almost simultaneously there were kids reporting this to at least three other administrators across the building.”
Geary said the comments originated on Twitter, where students used their phone to post the comments. In addition to the students who made Geary aware of the situation, the principal said a number of teachers also reached out to Geary via e-mail to make him aware of the issue.
“I would say that the sort of positive that came out of this is that a lot of students didn’t care for what was written and reported it to adults,” said Geary.
In a letter to the Manchester High School community that was posted on www.mhsredline.com and dated Nov. 9, Geary said, “I am writing to let you know about a cyber-bullying issue that occurred Friday at Manchester High School. Late Friday morning, high school administrators were made aware of various lists that were posted on social media. Multiple high school students were involved in creating these lists, which contained names of and derogatory information about some female students who attend the high school,” the letter stated.
“There will be stiff consequences, up to recommended expulsion, for those students who initiated or distributed these lists,” the letter from Geary said.
Both the school and the Manchester Police Department have been investigating the incident. Christopher Davis, a captain with the MPD, said the nature of their investigation was, “To determine whether or not any crimes had occurred, and if so we would address it criminally. In general terms, if you’re talking about somebody posting something specifically about somebody in a public place that is vulgar, that’s a breach of peace - or it could be harassment; usually those types of charges,” he said.
Despite reports classifying this incident as “cyber bullying,” Kisiel said this is really a case of sexual harassment. “Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination which violates Title IX,” said Kisiel.
“At the district level, we have initiated our own investigation to our Title IX coordinator and the outcome is, ‘what’s the remedy,’” said Kisiel. “What remedy will these girls and or their families seek with regard to what occurred?”
Kisiel said prior to the incident he was already in the process of re-writing board policies for sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace.
In his letter to the MHS community, Geary urged parents to review the current Manchester Board of Education policy on bullying with their students. Geary included a portion of the policy with a link to the full policy. “Bullying, sexual harassment and gender stereotyping of any student has no place in the Manchester Public Schools, which must be safe and nurturing environments that promote learning and full participation by all students,” Geary stated.
Although he doesn’t anticipate any restrictions on the use of technology at MHS, Geary said there will be a focus on further educating students about proper use of technology.
“It’s a powerful tool that we want students to use the right way, so there will be another effort to explain to folks what appropriate use of technology looks like,” said Geary.