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Education

Severna Park High School investigating bullying incident of student with special needs

Anne Arundel County Public School officials are investigating a video captured last week at Severna Park High School that showed a student with special needs being bullied, a spokesperson said.

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The video, taken Jan. 10 in what appears to be the cafeteria, depicts a student using foul language containing racial slurs, and epithets and phrases that are demeaning to people with special needs. The video later shows the student implying a threat of harm against the student with special needs.

The student who made the statements and another who took the video have been identified, said Bob Mosier, a spokesperson for the school system.

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“Appropriate action was taken in accordance to the code of student conduct,” Mosier said. “All aspects of this investigation are continuing.”

The video was taken around 1:30 pm and spread throughout the student body and staff using AirDrop, a service that allows the near-instant transfer of files between Apple devices, said Severna Park High School Principal Lindsey Abruzzo in a letter sent home last Tuesday.

Abruzzo and the Board of Education were notified of the situation as numerous parents and community members flooded her office with emails and phone calls about the incident, Mosier said.

“As a school community, we must never condemn children. However, I do condemn the actions in this video in the strongest possible terms,” Abruzzo wrote. “They are unacceptable anywhere, especially in a school setting where part of our mission as a collective community is to cultivate students who are king, accepting and inclusive.”

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The identities of the students involved in the incident will not be disclosed and are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Mosier said.

The video went viral after being shared to Twitter but was soon taken down. It resurfaced three days later on Jan. 13 after a Tiktok user, who goes by TizzyEnt, shared the clip with blurred faces.

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The Tiktok creator went on to tell his 5.3 million followers to call the school and express their displeasure with the incident but discouraged making threats against the school. TizzyEnt did not respond to a request for comment.

“There is no world where you need to find that child who said those things and communicate with them or their families, [and] there is no world where sending them threats of violence or death is acceptable, that will make you as bad as him,” TizzyEnt said in the video. “But there’s no reason you shouldn’t let the school district know.”

As of Tuesday, he video has received more than 134,000 likes with more than 9,200 sharesf.

Superintendent Mark Bedell has met with his leadership team and Abruzzo about the incident, Mosier said, and believes there needs to be more conversations around hate/bias that involves not just students, but the community at large.

Severna Park High has made school counselors and student services teams available for students to share how they feel about the incident.


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