Police in Scituate are investigating the alleged use of hateful language by several local middle school students in an online school platform, the town’s Select Board said Wednesday.
Several students at Lester J. Gates Middle School “were discovered to have created a private document on a school platform which included hateful and hurtful language and images contrary to the community’s commitment to eradicating this behavior in our town,” the board said in a statement.
Superintendent of Schools Bill Burkhead said Wednesday that several students produced “a slide deck containing inappropriate content.”
“This slide deck names individual students and staff members and also includes comments about race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion. It also includes hypersexualized content and photographs of members of our school community,” he and Jamele Adams, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the school department, said in a statement.
The slide deck was shared with specific individuals but hasn’t been publicly shared on social media. The writing did not contain any threats, school officials said.
School officials have identified the students who were responsible. They will be held accountable, officials said.
“Work to repair harm resulting from their actions will take place as well,” the statement said. The episode illustrates the need to continue working toward inclusivity, officials added.
“When incidents like these occur, we are reminded of the significance of our ongoing efforts to create and maintain an environment where each member of our community is respected and valued for their individuality,” they said. “During the coming weeks, we will work closely and together with staff, students and other important stakeholders.”
Police Chief Mark Thompson referred questions to the school department Thursday.
The Select Board said it does not condone acts of bigotry under any circumstances.
“The Select Board will not tolerate acts that demean or belittle others based upon race, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion nor will we tolerate messages of hate or violence against any resident, student, business, or guest,” its statement said.