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Discriminatory posts on app ‘will not be tolerated’ in Monroe


Staff Writer

MONROE — The discriminatory posts that targeted specific ethnic groups on the social media app, After School, did not originate from any of the school devices within the school Wi-Fi account in the Monroe Township School District, according to Schools Superintendent Michael Kozak.

On March 22, Monroe Township High School Principal Robert Goodall, in a letter to parents and guardians, said students reported “the disturbing posts which targeted specific ethnic groups” to his office.

“Monroe Township High School embraces the diversity of its community, and these posts are beyond disappointing and will not be tolerated if posted by any of our students,” he said.

Goodall said the apparent purpose of the app, which has been available since 2014, is to create an unfiltered forum to make comments about a school district, community or individual person.

Kozak said the social media app is not associated with the school district. He applauded the students who saw the posts and reported it to the principal’s office.

He said as of March 24, the school district had been working in cooperation with the Monroe Township Police Department, which has involved other agencies in the investigation.

The superintendent said Goodall has addressed the entire high school student body on what transpired.

Kozak said the administration has met with officers of the African American Club at the high school and met with some parents and students discussing efforts in their goal to provide a safe climate for all their students.

“I’ve talked with other superintendents from other districts and some have been dealing with similar [types of situations] so to my understanding it’s not [happening in] just New Jersey,” he said.

Kozak said they will continue to stay vigilant and monitor the situation.

School Business Administrator Michael Gorski said Goodall and Reginald Washington, the district’s IT Director, immediately and professionally handled the situation in accordance with the Board of Education’s policies and the high school code of conduct, to safeguard students.

“Local law enforcement was immediately notified and they increased their presence on campus, which was appreciated by parents and administration, as they conduct their ongoing investigation,” he said.

Gorski said the posts were blocked from district networks.

According to Michael Luchies, communications manager for After School, the purpose of the app is to give teens “a fun and safe way to connect and share with other students from their school, and in order to offer that, we use proactive moderation, both technical and human to enforce our guidelines and policies.”
Contrary to the information provided in a letter to parents, After School is not an “unfiltered forum,” and content of this nature violates the agreement made by users, he said in his statement. In situations where student safety is in question, After School fully cooperates with and provides support to law enforcement.
“The user(s) who made these posts have been removed from our network for violating our Community Guidelines and Zero Tolerance Policy against cyberbullying and threats. The author(s) of these posts is not representative of the outstanding teenagers we interact with on a daily basis and the millions of After School users. In addition to the posts that we removed from the network, others of this nature were blocked and never appeared in the school’s feed,” he said.
 Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.
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