Update - 1:50 PM - At this time we would like you to be aware that there are news media personnel at the high school interested in doing a story related to the reprehensible social media posting of students wearing shirts with lettering spelling out the word "rape" (see the posting on our website for more information). These media outlets are not permitted on school property. However, it is possible they may approach students at dismissal as they leave our grounds. In that regard, we will have a multitude of staff outside at dismissal in an effort to support students who are not interested in speaking with the media.
As mentioned in our earlier e-mail, we are in the midst of investigating this incident and will release accurate information when available. Please know that it is impossible for the District to do its work and stay ahead of social media postings and/or the other media outlets; our first concerns are the safety and education of our students, and we will continue to do everything practical to get accurate information permissible by law to parents in a timely fashion. In the future, if possible, we will inform you when we are in the midst of handling a situation that is pertinent to parents as we understand you may have concerns.
Thank you for your attention and understanding.
Original Statement - Commack, NY - September 19, 2014 - During the last period of the day yesterday, Thursday, September 18, all Commack high school seniors were assembled on the bleachers of the varsity field to take the "senior photo," an annual event. Two years ago, the school banned "lettering and/or messages" on clothing during the senior photo. This restriction is actively enforced during the senior photo sitting. After the photo and the final bell, students are dismissed for the day. However, some students remained on the field to take photos with their friends. It appears that the offensive photo that was posted on social media was taken at that time or shortly thereafter.
There is no doubt that these students showed an inexcusable lack of judgment, and their actions are taken very seriously by the entire school community. At this time, we are actively engaged in a comprehensive investigation to determine the full scope of this matter and whether or not this was an isolated incident. At this time, it does appear that this is an isolated incident. Moving forward, and upon completion of our investigation, we will take the necessary and appropriate actions including, but not limited to, disciplinary and legal action if applicable.
Please be aware that disciplinary procedures are proceeding according to law and Commack's Code of Conduct and the District is not permitted to release the names of the students or the consequences they receive. However, you can be assured we are taking every step necessary to keep all of our students safe. We deeply regret the turmoil caused by the actions of these students, and know that it does not reflect the values of the rest of Commack High School or the Commack community.
At this time, counseling is available for any student in need, and we will continue planning educational opportunities for students, both broad-based and targeted, related to this incident as well as the repercussions of posting inappropriate material or comments on social media.
Again, please know that we take this, and any threatening actions and/or messages very seriously and will continue to educate our children regarding their personal and online actions and reactions.