Six students were suspended for two days for inappropriate use of the school network and cyberbullying. The students contributed content to a Google Document titled “HUNDO SQUAD” using their school Google Drive accounts. According to two of the students, the document was created in early November 2014 in an attempt to pass the time in their history class.
The document was shared with 36 people, but not every person who had access to the document contributed to it. Six of the 36 students on the document were suspended, and other members of the document have been asked to present statements to the administration.
They were suspended for violating two sections of the California Education Code (48900 r and 48900.4) pertaining to bullying and harassment. Students received a two day suspension and agreed to participate in a community service project.
The majority of the students written about were unaware of the document’s existence, although at least two male students requested to be written about in the document. However, other students, mostly female, were unaware of the document until recently.
The administration has also asked for statements from students mentioned in the document in order to improve the safety of the classroom and to voice their opinions.
The administration has taken action and is still dealing with the incident.
This recent situation has prompted discussions about students’ actions online.
According to the Acalanes Union High School District, cyberbullying is using technology to threaten, harass, or hurt someone, spread rumors, or pass on someone’s private information; engaging in any transmissions that are in violation of federal or state regulations including but not limited to transmission of defamatory, obscene, pornographic, offensive, disruptive, threatening, bullying, or harassing messages or information. Students can access this definition and the responsibilities associated with network usage in the Miramonte Agenda – also referred to as the Student Handbook – on pages 24 and 29, as well as on the Miramonte Website under “Administrative Documents and Messages.”
In the event that a student engages in such activities, the student may be confronted by the administration and/or the police, and may be suspended or expelled.
“If the issue is brought to the administration’s attention and the student feels they are experiencing a hostile educational environment, the administration will look into the situation. In some cases, the police or law enforcement may be brought into it,” Associate Principal Jan Carlson said.
When registering for school, students and their parents sign and agree to the terms stated in the Student Internet and Network Responsible Use Agreement. These responsibilities include not engaging in any type of cyberbullying or transmitting offensive content. Offensive content consists of, but is not limited to, sexual comments or images; racial slurs; gender-specific comments; or any comments, messages, or media that would offend someone on the basis of his or her age, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, national origin, or disability. When the administration checks a student’s file, they can see that a student has signed this document and has the right to respond accordingly.
The school also provides students with Google accounts. Google has their own terms of agreement that describe what the user can and cannot do on the account. Google specifies that users should not use Google accounts to harass others, and if a user complains, Google may investigate the situation. The terms in the Student Handbook and the Student Internet and Network Responsible Use Agreement regarding students’ use of the internet applies to Google accounts and Apple IDs created by the district.
With the Google accounts comes access to Google Drive, which allows students to share documents. Many teachers encourage students to use Google Drive as it is a safe and easy place for student work to be saved and accessed. Students can easily collaborate on group projects and even submit their work electronically. However, as this technology is evolving and making information more accessible, regulating student activity becomes harder.
“Students may not be as conscious of the implications their words can have on the internet,” Carlson said.
The administration, therefore, wishes to inform students of the importance of being respectful and mindful online. In the 2013-2014 school year, Miramonte presented the movie Bully to all of the students. Afterwards, classes engaged in discussions about the movie’s themes. The administration hopes to do something similar this year so that students can be reminded of the effects of bullying.