A Manchester High School student has been arrested in connection with a cyber-bullying incident that targeted female students earlier this month, police said.
The 15-year-old student, who has not been identified, is charged with breach of peace and obscenity.
School superintendent Richard Kisiel said the student charged was the mastermind of vulgar posts on Facebook and Twitter about dozens of female classmates. According to Kisiel, three of the student's friends contributed to the cyber-bullying.
All four students have been suspended. Three are being moved to a different school in the district and the fourth could be expelled, according to representatives of the school district. It's not clear if that student was the teen arrested.
"It's just revolting and unacceptable," Kiesiel said. "It affects the climate of a building. That's something the students didn't think about and they didn't think about the feelings of the young women that were impacted."
School board chairman Chris Pattacini said that although the incident happened off campus, the list circulated around the school for weeks, so the district called police.
"Any form of bullying is completely unacceptable," Pattacini said, "and so we need to make sure they understand that."
High school principal Matt Geary addressed the incident in a letter posted to the school's website on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Geary said the students responsible would be held to the same standards as those implicated in any on-campus bullying situation.
In the letter, Geary said school officials learned that a group of students had posed lists on social media containing “names of and derogatory information about some female students who attend the high school.”
One of the victims, 17-year-old Sabrina Jennings, said she feels humiliated and wants the students behind the bullying to be punished for their actions.
Jennings said four teenage boys posted a vulgar list on Facebook and Twitter including the names of dozens of girls from the high school, making graphic claims about their sexual activity. Jennings' name is on that list.
"I was pretty infuriated when I saw my name on the list," Jennings said, adding that the claims are false and hurtful. "I had a lot of rumors come up about me after this real quick."
Jennings said she reported the list to Geary and her school guidance councilor.
Administrators are taking the incident very seriously.
“There will be stiff consequences, up to recommended expulsion, for those students who initiated and distributed these lists,” Geary said in the letter. "Please note that if the actions taken by a person create a hostile environment at school for another person, that action can be considered bullying, regardless of where it occurs or was initiated."
Geary's letter cited the school bullying policy, which reads, in part:
“In accordance with state law and the Manchester Board of Education’s Safe School Climate Plan, the Board expressly prohibits any form of bullying behavior on school grounds; at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program, whether on or off school grounds; at a school bus stop; on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by a local or regional board of education; or through the use of an electronic device or an electronic mobile device owned, leased or used by Board of Education. The Board also prohibits any form of bullying behavior outside of the school setting if such bullying (i) creates a hostile environment at school for the student against whom such bullying was directed, (ii) infringes on the rights of the student against whom such bullying was directed at school, or (iii) substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”