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Shawnee schools, police investigate online bullying incidents

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
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Shawnee Public Schools and the Shawnee Police Department are investigating various incidents in which students were allegedly targets of online bullying.

In a letter sent by Superintendent Dr. April Grace Sept. 1, parents and guardians were made aware of various situations in which students experienced “bullying behavior” from fake anonymous social media accounts.

“Some of these incidents involve emotional bullying conducted anonymously through an Instagram account, and may involve several students acting in concert with one another,” Grace said.

Grace said the district is working with Shawnee police to find the source of these accounts and their posts about other students.

“Our investigations will be assertive and complete, and the consequences will be stern. These behaviors cannot and will not be tolerated,” Grace said.

The superintendent said while bullying can occur off school grounds and outside of school hours and it can be complicated handling those situations, SPS wants to be a part of the solution to end bullying.

“We understand the importance of our partnership with you. We urge you to take time to speak about this very important issue with your student (or students),” Grace said.

Grace said the district encourages parents to educate students and help them understand what it means to be a bystander and implore them to speak up and take action if they witness any form of bullying.

“We encourage you to partner with us to stop these behaviors. Report any suspected bullying to your school administrators or counselors,” Grace said. “Take screenshots of Instagram or other social media posts that might be essential to an investigation.”

Grace said the district is dedicated to making a safe and inclusive atmosphere for all students.

Since she sent out the letter, Grace said people have taken to social media to spread positivity about others.

“There has been a positive account started where people are sharing good things about others and positives,” Grace said. “The (other) accounts were imitation or mimicking accounts, used in a very negative way. We wanted to make families aware, as well as share how they can work to partner with us and help.”

Check back for updates.