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Huntley School District 158 investigating derogatory comments toward students on Twitter

Words not violent or threatening in nature, officials say

Huntley School District 158 Superintendent Scott Rowe listens to discussion during a past board meeting in Algonquin.
Huntley School District 158 Superintendent Scott Rowe listens to discussion during a past board meeting in Algonquin.

Huntley School District 158 is warning families about an anonymous social media account targeting individual students and staff with derogatory comments and other online harassment.

In a letter sent to families of Huntley High School students, Principal Marcus Belin said the Twitter account – Huntley Confessions – encourages students to submit comments through an anonymous form. However, many of the comments were deemed inappropriate.

“It is important to note that this account has not posted any content indicating a threat of danger or violence at the school or individual students,” Belin wrote. “It has, however, targeted individual students and staff members with derogatory comments, and is causing a disruption to the school environment.”

Dan Armstrong, director of communications and public engagement at District 158, said he became aware of the account last week, and the district initially wanted to handle the situation internally.

But after attempts to report the account to Twitter failed, Armstrong said, the district decided to take more public action.

“We felt we owed it to the victims and to the families in the larger community who potentially weren’t aware this is happening,” Armstrong said. “We needed to make them aware that this is going on, and hopefully enlist their help in shutting it down.”

On Wednesday, the school district posted on its official Twitter page that the anonymous account was cyberbullying students. Once that tweet went out, Armstrong said, the Huntley Confessions account became private.

“We were pretty quickly able to determine that this is not something that was being managed on one of our networks,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said local law enforcement officials also were notified.

Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said the department looked into the account, and although a lot of the comments were inappropriate or vulgar, none were violent or criminal in nature. Therefore, Klunk said, from a police perspective, nothing actionable was committed.

District 158 staff are encouraging parents to speak with their children about the inappropriate and harmful nature of this kind of cyberactivity.

“Please also support those who have been victimized by it and other forms of bullying and harassment,” Belin wrote in his letter. “This kind of negativity has no place in our school, which strives to be an open, welcoming and supportive environment for all students.”

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