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‘Disturbing Images’ In Middle School Students’ Edited Video Prompt District, Police Action

Two Franklin Middle School students face school disciplinary action after they modified a school-assigned video to include what district officials regarded as “disturbing images.”

District spokeswoman Mary Clark said the students used some video footage created during a school assignment to create a new video, an action which schools Superintendent John Ravally labeled as “poor judgment” in a message to parents.

There was never any threat to the schools or students, district and Franklin Township Police Department officials said.

Clark said the incident “would be treated in accordance with the student code of conduct, and there would have been a level of discipline there.”

Neither Clark nor FTPD spokesman Lt. Phil Rizzo would discuss the content of the video, which was posted to YouTube and later taken down.

“It was enough to trigger us calling the police department, enough for the police department to say ‘take that down’ and it was enough for us to start disciplinary actions in accordance with the code of conduct,” she said.

The video was brought to the attention of Nicholas Solomon, the middle school principal, Clark said, who then contacted Ravally and police. The video “depicted a male Middle School Student in a music video” and “contained no specific threats against the school or any students,” according to a press release o the incident from the FTPD.

FTPD detectives met with the two students responsible for the video and, after a “thorough investigation,” according to the release, “it was determined that there was no threat or danger to the school that would warrant further police action.”

“The matter was forwarded back to the school to investigate possible violations of school rules,” according to the release.

Ravally sent out a phone blast and email letter to parents about the incident. The letter follows:

“Good Morning,

“During the weekend it was discovered that two Franklin Middle School students exercising poor judgment while editing a video used photo editing software to create disturbing images then uploaded the edited video to social media.

“The video has since been removed and at no time was anyone in the school community in any danger. The School district in cooperation with the police are finalizing the investigation of this matter and are now taking appropriate steps in dealing with the students.

“While we as a school staff continue to work with our local police department to make our schools as safe as possible we need the continued help of the entire school community to achieve that goal. We encourage you to talk with your children and explain the seriousness of engaging in dangerous behaviors.

“Please visit the district’s website to read a letter that provides more information about district safety and security procedures.

“Thank you for your time and have a good remainder of the day.”

Here is the letter from Ravally posted on the school district’s web site:

“Dear Franklin Township School Community:

“In the aftermath of the horrific event that took place in South Florida last week, we realize that many of you have school security on your mind. I want to take this opportunity to inform you that we, as a school district, work constantly in partnership with the Franklin Township Police Department to make our school campuses safe for our students. We have established emergency management plans in place that cover a wide range of scenarios and we conduct monthly drills to practice the execution of those plans.

“In addition to conducting monthly security drills, we also have made physical changes to our facilities to help hinder those looking to create harm in our schools. Some of these changes include upgrades to our card swipe systems, upgrades to our surveillance systems and physical changes at our entrances and exits.

“In recent months we have added two new security systems to further protect our staff and students. The first, called “Lobby Guard”, conducts immediate background checks on those visiting our schools helping to ensure those visitors do not pose a threat to our students. The latest system to be introduced is a close loop communication system called “Share 911” which is intended to open a direct line of communication between law enforcement, district staff and administrators in the event of an emergency.

“In addition to the communication upgrades, physical changes to facilities and the emergency plans in place, we have worked extremely hard in recent years to assist students who are facing emotional and social difficulties. We have a number of resources both in and out of the district to assist students when dealing with social and emotional challenges.

“The Franklin Township Police Department has a consistent presence in our schools and their police officers work closely with our district safety officers. During the next few weeks we will be adding additional safety officers to our campuses to strengthen the security presence in and around our schools. The Franklin Township Police Department is also pledging to increase their presence in and around our schools by deploying their own safety team who will work closely with our safety officers.

“If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact either Mr. Orvyl Wilson, Director of School Management or me directly.”

In the FTPD press release, Police Chief Richard Grammar said, “The safety and security of our residents, especially our children, is paramount. This incident did not contain any threats towards the school, students or staff. We continue to work closely with our partners at the Franklin Township Board of Education to ensure that our students have a safe environment that promotes learning.”

 

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