The increased inappropriate usage of electronic devices has caused schools to take steps to prevent social media problems from having a negative influence on their school and students. Students are using the social media to vent their frustrations with their schools, school principals, and other students. With over 50% of kids ages 10-17 admitting to posting risky comments or photos online, schools must take additional measures to prevent social media problems in schools.
According to the article, Racist Instagram Photos Tore a California School Apart, schools across the United States have challenges with preventing social media problems that result from students who post toxic things online. The specific incident began in a California school where Anika Mallard was sitting in her math class when a friend passed her the phone. It was pulled up to an Instagram account containing pictures of the 16-year-old and several other Black students with nooses around their necks and side by side with monkeys.
Albany High School administrators initially suspended 13 students associated with the private account for five days and threatened one with expulsion. Then, as most of the students prepared to reintegrate into the school, emails went out from the school district’s superintendent and the school’s principal identifying these student as “racists” and “abusers.
Herein lies the beginning to the problem. The administrators did their job when they disciplined the students according to school board policy. However they took it to far by issuing a follow up letter to express their position as administrators. This action created a hostile environment for the students who initiated the racist social media post.
Furthermore parents later received another communication about a noose found at a local park, though cops later clarified it was a broken swing. A lawsuit brought forth by the families of four of the accused kids says that these messages—regardless of their veracity—helped create a pressure cooker that went off on March 30, when the students returned to school.
The students were required to attend a closed door restorative justice seminar orchestrated by a group called SEEDS. When the students emerged from the SEED session, tensions in the school were high. People were hot and tired and wanted to make their anger at the perpetrators known. As the kids attempted to get through the crowd and to their cars, some of them were struck in the head by some of the nearly 100 demonstrators. One of the students suffered a broken nose
Herein lies the second and third error committed by the administrators. Once the students received their suspensions the disciplinary process should have ceased. The continued discipline entered into the realm of double jeopardy by requiring the students to submit to the SEEDS seminar after receiving their punishment
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . .” The four essential protections included are prohibitions against, for the same offense:
- retrial after an acquittal;
- retrial after a conviction;
- retrial after certain mistrials; and
- multiple punishment
Furthermore, their error lies in the way that they did not protect the students. With one hundred demonstrators, they should have taken extra measures to protect the students no matter how they may have felt personally.
Administrators who desire to prevent social media problems in their schools must evaluate the culture of the school. A culture evaluation begins with gathering information from students. In this case, since it appears that racist comments are a hotbed this should provide an appropriate beginning.
It will become a reality that the real challenge is the relationships between students. Students have decided to use social media as a format to express the lack of positive relationships at the schools. School officials can prevent social media problems in schools by promoting positive racial relationships between students.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President