MVHS administration, staff bring quick end to cyberbullying incident between students

Steve Chapman

An incident which “could be classified as cyberbullying” was quickly brought to a halt by Mt. Vernon High School administrators and staff who investigated the matter. Scott Cook, superintendent of schools, said the situation involved memes depicting Mt. Vernon High School students which were posted on Instagram.
“There was an incident that came to light last week that could be classified as cyberbullying,” he said on Monday, Feb. 10. “Accounts were created on Instagram posting pictures depicting MVHS students in various memes. Not all the memes posted were derogatory in nature. However, a majority of the pictures did make derogatory comments toward other students which was obviously concerning to administrators at the high school.”
Cook said district policy defines cyberbullying as “a form of bullying committed by transmission of a communication including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound or image by means of an electronic device including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer or pager.”
The district policy also states the district has a wide range of authority to deal with cyberbullying, even if it occurs off-campus.“The district has jurisdiction over cyberbullying that uses the district’s technology resources or that originates on district property, at a district activity or on district transportation,” policy statement read. “Even when cyberbullying does not involve district property, activities or technology resources, the district will impose consequences and discipline for those who engage in cyberbullying if there is a sufficient nexus to the educational environment, the behavior materially and substantially disrupts the educational environment, the communication involves a threat as defined by law, or the district is otherwise allowed by law to address the behavior.”
Cook said the incident met the criteria to fall under the district’s jurisdiction.
“In this situation, the volume and nature of the posts caused a great disruption over the course of several school days,” he said. “Additionally, many of the posts were made during school hours and used district internet access.”
Due to confidentiality restrictions, the district was prohibited from sharing the punishments facing the parties involved.
Mt. Vernon High School Principal Dr. Josh Ladd said that following the initial incident, his faith in the student body was restored with how quickly the guilty students removed the posts—within minutes—realizing the prank had gone farther than they intended.
Cook did express appreciation to the school personnel who investigated the matter, law enforcement who supported the investigation, and the students who brought the matter to the attention of school administrators.
“I would like to thank Dr. Josh Ladd, Mr. Chris Johnston, Mrs. Stephanie Smith, and Mrs. Trish Johnston for their hard work to investigate and deal with this highly disruptive situation,” he said. “We are also appreciative of the support we received from law enforcement in the course of this investigation. We are also very appreciative of the students who stepped forward to make sure administrators were aware of the Instagram accounts and defend the students who were negatively portrayed. We hope many valuable lessons were learned during the course of this unfortunate incident.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


Please Login for Premium Content