East Providence superintendent issues statement on false Facebook chatter

Social media speculation led to unnecessary panic Friday

EastBayRI.com ·

EAST PROVIDENCE — East Providence Schools Superintendent issued the following statement about the consequences of social media speculation in light of Friday's false claims...

"Many of our young people may not fully understand the consequences resulting from ill advised uses of social media. Recently, there was a rash of Facebook messages centered on something supposedly happening at East Providence High School. Many of the messages were related to the nonsense scares suggesting “clown” attacks. To those participating it probably appeared as nothing more than some Halloween pranks. But there were consequences – significant consequences.

"On the day following the prank, over two hundred more students than usual were absent at the High School alone. In an age of terrorism and other attacks on schools, parents take threats very seriously – which is well understood. Some may argue, OK, it was a stupid prank and some kids missed a day of school.

"Here is a look at some of the real consequences.

"We are working diligently to prepare our High School students for life challenges which may include college but most certainly include careers. The lost day was a lost opportunity in that preparation.

"On a more pragmatic level, the School District budget for this year exceeds $77,000,000. This amounts to $14,647 per student per year or $81.38 per student per day. The consequences of this Halloween prank? Somewhere between $16,000 and $20,000 was lost in educational time in the District. Untold hours were consumed while administrators and the police, always vigilant of student safety, were ascertaining no real threat existed.

"As Halloween approaches, we would ask our young people to be more aware of the damage done with what might appear to be harmless pranks. When seeing something in social media that is intended to scare, such as a threat of violence, let your parents or the police know. Please do not perpetuate the problem by passing the message on to others – others who in their immaturity might be tempted to pass the message to other impressionable children.

"East Providence High School is striving to graduate well educated young adults with strong leadership potential. One can begin showing that leadership by acting responsibly and encouraging others to do the same."

Kathryn M. Crowley

Superintendent of Schools

East Providence Public Schools

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