Hate speech incident reveals student discipline trend

A recent videotaped incident involving a TPHS student’s racist comments, circulated on the social media platform Snapchat, has highlighted a new trend in student discipline issues.

According to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo, there has been “more vandalism, fights, and inappropriate behavior issues” brought to attention due to social media, many of which occur off campus.

TPHS addressed the video in a media statement released on March 8, calling the video “derogatory, racist and unacceptable.”

“While this incident did not occur during the school day, and was not connected to any school event, TPHS is addressing the impact of this behavior on our school community,” the statement said.

The situation is just one of many incidents in which social media has enabled administrators to discipline students who would otherwise go unseen if not for documentation like video recordings.

“We’ve now taken to suspending students that we can identify [videotaping] a fight,” Coppo said. “They’re having an impact because they’re creating a video that other people now want, which creates a disruption of school activities.”

During the day, TPHS has jurisdiction over students from when they leave their house to the moment they cross the threshold of their household again, according to Coppo.

“So that’s where social media gets super gray and murky,” Coppo said. “But when somebody says something that has an impact on our campus, we need to intervene,” regardless of where it occurred.

At a SDUHSD board meeting on March 15, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Bryan Marcus addressed student discipline off campus.

“Social media posts and [incidents] that are taking place outside of school [are] creating a negative environment at school that has taken up a lot of our time from our administrators to deal with,” Marcus said.

TPHS students have also become aware of an increase in the spread of incidents online.

“Social media definitely plays a large component in bringing light to incidents,” said Everett Alden (12). “But unless it’s a threat to students, the school shouldn’t be involved with what’s happening on social media.”

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