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Superintendent warns Fulton students, parents on cyberbullying

Superintendent warns Fulton students, parents on cyberbullying

February 16th, 2017 by Jenny Gray in Local News

Jacque Cowherd, superintendent of Fulton Public Schools, said Wednesday afternoon it's his duty to protect students from harm.

He sent out a statement to parents and students warning them that retaliation — in this case, mostly in the form of cyber bullying — will not be tolerated.

"From my perspective, I was dismayed I had to go to legal council and get this letter (created)," he said. "This was not my first choice and I feel backed into a wall, but I will protect every child I can."

Last Friday, an investigation was joined by school officials and Fulton police about a report of a male high school employee and a high school student conducting inappropriate Snapchat exchanges. The school employee was not named and was not at work on Monday. Cowherd said Wednesday he had no comment about the employee's job status.

After that investigation became
public, parents and students starting making "inappropriate posts" on Snapchat that could be construed as hurtful, Cowherd added. The letter warns, "The retaliation has to stop. Each student controls his or her own fate going forward. Anyone who engages in further retaliation will have consequences."

Cowherd added he is disappointed parents and students are engaging in this behavior, but he will protect students. To that end, he has eliminated a "bring your own device" policy and high school students will have access to school-issued Chromebooks only for academic use.

"We determined personal devices may be part of the problem," he said. "We are making sure every child has a school-issued device with appropriate safeguards."

Personal cellphones are not banned, but must be used appropriately, Cowherd added.

"Legal counsel tells us we've got to go full blown," he said, adding that the statement to students and parents is part of this effort.

Under new revisions to the Missouri Criminal Code, people engaging in retaliation similar to behavior in this incident can be prosecuted for a crime, and parents can be sued in civil court. Students who engage in retaliation also can lose privileges at school, be suspended, or even expelled.