The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 11, 2012

UPDATED: Students to be punished for page on Facebook

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Clinton school officials and parents quickly solved a case Thursday of what they are calling cyber-bullying targeted at Washington Middle School students.  

According to Superintendent Deb Olson, the district’s IT staff and the school resource officer at WMS immediately began working to get the page taken down and discover the students behind the Facebook page “Wms Rejects Clinton IA.”

School officials were alerted of the page by parents late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.  

“I think the best thing is that parents were vigilant,” Olson said.

“They sounded the alarm early.”

Fifteen posts declaring negative statements about specific students went  up on the page shortly after it was created around noon Wednesday. The last post, which also was posted around noon Wednesday reads, “until later facebook.”

The page had 23 “friends,” many of which posted comments defending the people the negative posts were about.  

Numerous parents of students throughout the district reported the page to Facebook and it was taken down by Thursday evening.  

WMS Principal Brian Kenney said through a collaborative effort between parents, students, staff and the Clinton Police Department, the WMS administration and school resource officer correctly identified the students responsible by Thursday morning.

Kenney said Officer Shane Haskell investigated the incident, interviewed those involved and received an admission.

Olson said disciplinary action will be taken based on the student-conduct policy.  

“It does affect what goes on at school. It is a school issue,” Olson said.

School officials plan to repurpose the incident as a tool for educating students and parents about bullying in order to prevent further instances.  

“It is critical that we get student feedback so that we can problem solve in a collaborative effort to work to bring this type of activity to a stop,” Kenney said in a written statement Thursday.

 Olson said she would like parents to use the incident as a teaching opportunity as well.

“This is not an anonymous crime. This affects people,” Olson said.

“I’m hoping parents will talk to their children.”