Bethesda, MD – Students in Montgomery County must have really wanted the day off. So much so that they allegedly threatened to slash the tires of superintendent Joshua Starr if he didn’t cancel for snow. Oh, some apparently threatened to rape him and his family too. And all of this on Twitter.
Starr told local media outlets that he was on the receiving end of “offensive and disturbing” tweets last week as he considered shuttering school over a snowstorm.
“Some of these tweets were clever, funny, and respectful, pleading for me to cancel school so they could sleep in or have more time to do their homework,” he recalled. “Many of these tweets, however, were offensive and disturbing.”
Among the offensive tweets, many were apparently racially charged (for context, Starr is Caucasian) and some threatened his family.
“There was rampant use of racial epithets and curse words,” Starr said.
In response, Starr wrote an open letter to parents encouraging civility education when it comes to inline behavior. He announced the creation of a task force which will develop resources for families about cyberbullying and raise awareness of the issue.
“Talk to your kids. Make sure the computer is in a public space. Make sure you know your kids password. Know their friends and constantly talk to them,” Starr told News4 Friday.
You can read the letter below, but it basically calls for more engagement from parents in the online behavior of their teenagers. Won’t they be just overjoyed.
“I’d like to think that [students] wouldn’t post such things if they understood the consequences of their actions or if they knew that I’m legally responsible for reporting threats to the police and to their parents,” the letter reads. “I’d like to think they wouldn’t post such things, especially if they understood that these posts are permanent and can follow them and impact college acceptances, job opportunities, and future relationships.”
Though he stressed that posts are “permanent,” it seems that Starr’s students deleted most, if not all of their offensive tweets. Searching Starr’s name, page and related hashtags didn’t turn up jack-nothing, and darn it if I didn’t spend a whole 15 minutes looking.
(If you know of any anti-Starr tweets still standing, shoot me an RT or a screencap)
He did cancel school Monday and Tuesday, by the way.