TWENTY-eight students have been suspended from a County Limerick school after they ‘liked’ an “explicit” post on Facebook.
The Limerick Leader understands that the post contained an image and text relating to the personal life of a teacher at the school.
A number of the students from Colaiste Chiarain secondary school in Croom were suspended last week for two days while others, who were on work experience away from the school, began their suspension today.
“An issue was brought to my attention which concerned significantly inappropriate activity on a Facebook account. This happened outside the school,” said school principal Noel Malone today.
“We investigated and to date we haven’t found the person or persons who created this website but unfortunately it brought to our attention certain breaches of our acceptable usage policy and anti-bullying policy,” Mr Malone added.
According to the school principal, the breach involved “violation of people’s privacy and also could be perceived as a form of cyberbullying.”
“It is a highly sensitive matter,” he stressed, adding that it “was a big learning experience for the school community.”
“I am 14 years as a principal here and we have technology from left, right and centre and even for someone as tuned in as I am I thought it was staggering to think that this was going on,” said Mr Malone.
Despite “strenuous and repeated efforts” to ask Facebook to remove the post, Mr Malone said that they repeatedly, even in writing, refused to do so.
“I am very, very concerned and I brought this up at a national level – why Facebook wouldn’t respond to a school and how they can feel that things like this are acceptable. Students or teachers, no matter who the community is, it certainly would give me grounds for concern,” he said.
The post has since been removed.
In a lot of the cases, Mr Malone said, parents had made contact with the school and they were “very supportive” and in other cases they met with senior management and discussed the matter and “again they were very supportive”.
“Basically, the school would take a very strong view on this, we need to constantly be vigilant to protect all our school community and the way I would look at this is, if it was their child or themselves, they would expect the school to act swiftly and fairly when it comes to something like this. Whether the intention was different – and I would say to be honest in all cases, probably the intention wasn’t there – we still have to send that message out,” he added.
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