POTTSTOWN PA – Students’ civil rights may have been violated by those who on Monday (March 24, 2014) posted and re-posted a 3-second video of an altercation between two high school riders on a Pottsgrove School District bus, Superintendent Shellie Feola reportedly suggested during Tuesday night’s (March 25) meeting of the district Board of School Directors.
Reporter Evan Brandt of The (Pottstown PA) Mercury newspaper, in an assembly of digital media components on Storify, wrote that Feola declared herself “appalled” by events regarding the incident that have unfolded during the past two days. The district has been the subject of harsh comments, most of them from those living outside the area, for both the occurrence and its handling of it.
There was no indication if Feola or the board could, or intended to, pursue any legal action based on her observation on student rights, or if they knew that parents of the students involved had such plans. None of the students, including a third who shot the video with a cell phone camera, have been identified.
A separate party who initially uploaded the video for public consumption, and who also has not been identified but who seemed to be a prime target of Feola’s reported comment, “had no involvement in the incident,” according to information the district provided Tuesday night. The resulting criticism of Pottsgrove has resulted from “assumptions based on misinformation on social media,” it added.
“I don’t think the adults who (posted the video) did what was best for the kids, and that saddens me,” Brandt quoted Feola as saying. “I am concerned that the civil rights of these students may have been violated, not by the district, but by the people who posted the video.”
It was social media itself that drew a rebuke from board President Justin Valentine. He noted that public debate about Pottsgrove’s change two years ago from elementary schools to grade-specific educational centers was in part fueled by social media outlets, which he said caused the district to lose “our way with how we dialog with our community, and I think we lost a little bit of our sense of community,” according to the Storify piece.
Valentine said it was an obligation of the board and administration to ensure the district wasn’t being directed by what appears on social media.
The district, in contrast, is a consistent and growing user of social media. It operates its own accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo, and encourages principals at all its schools to use similar accounts to reach their more highly targeted audiences. Ironically, Valentine’s comments were first distributed publicly beyond the board room via social media as well … specifically, Brandt’s Twitter account.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ March 25 meeting):
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