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Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Showdown looms for parents, principal after school casts wide net in sexting scandal
A sexting scandal at a Long Island high school that led to the arrest of two students and the suspension of about 20 others resulted in a showdown between parents and the school principal, who had vowed to arrest students trying to defy their suspensions Tuesday.
At least one of the suspended students attempted to attend class at Kings Park High School on Tuesday morning, but school officials called his father and told him the boy would need to be removed, Newsday reported. The father reluctantly consented and, shortly after 9 a.m., two police officers escorted the boy off the premises.
The suspensions at Kings Park High School and William T. Rogers Middle School arose from a cellphone video that allegedly spread among some students showing a sexual encounter between a 14-year-old Smithtown boy and an underage girl. That boy, along with another 14-year-old male who allegedly filmed the off-campus incident, was arrested and charged with promoting a sexual performance by a child and disseminating indecent material to minors, Newsday reported. The two boys, who are not being identified because they are minors, are set to appear in Family Court at a future date.
School officials investigating the episode suspended about 20 students for between one and five days; students who only possessed or saw the illicit material received less severe punishment than those who also distributed it, Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Egan said.
Distributing obscene images of minors is a felony in New York, and a spokesperson for the Suffolk County Police Department told FoxNews.com that students found to have passed along the sexting images could be arrested.
“Anyone who distributes the material will be arrested,” the spokesperson said. “The ones that were suspended, at this point, they’re not really sure if they distributed it. They may have just received it.”
Several parents of suspended children told Newsday they disagreed with the rationale for the suspension, arguing there’s no way to prevent receipt of a text message.
“I’m a little upset about it, because my son is facing suspension as an unwitting participant,” Thomas Phelan said.
Any students who attempted to defy the suspension were subject to arrest if the district requested it, a spokesperson for the Suffolk Police Department said. Police maintained a presence at the school on Tuesday morning.
“If the school wants to press charges we would have to do that,” the official said. “Our main purpose for being at the school is to keep it peaceful and safe. If the school feels someone is actually trespassing, we would have to take the report, but they would have to file the complaint first.”