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Boys’ song sparks uproar at Guilderland High

Four suspended for graphic rap about classmates

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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— Four boys at Guilderland High School are facing lengthy suspensions after creating and posting online a rap song that named 20 Guilderland High sophomores and attributed various sexual activities to them, school officials said.

The song, which was posted anonymously to YouTube on Monday, was removed Tuesday by the person who posted it.

By then, it had more than 1,500 views, according to media outlets that saw it before it was removed.

Among those who saw it were the girls who were named in it — and many of them didn’t go to school Tuesday.

“Because they felt very badly about it,” Superintendent Marie Wiles said.

Other students took the song to administrators as soon as they arrived at school Tuesday, she said.

Wiles said she was stunned when she heard it.

“It was laced with a good deal of graphic obscenity, and it used individuals’ names,” she said, adding that about 20 students were named.

In her 13 years as a superintendent, she said she’s seen many “bad choices” by teenagers. But this was a new low.

“I honestly can’t think of quite anything like this before,” she said.

By Wednesday, the boys were identified and suspended. They will be given hearings before their final punishment is determined, Wiles said.

Guilderland police are also investigating, but they may not file charges.

“We have to take everything into consideration. You’ve got freedom of speech issues, potential harassment issues. There’s a lot to consider,” said police Sgt. Roger Ginder.

The police are conferring with the district attorney’s office on the matter.

Making it more complicated, some of the boys are not yet 16, Ginder said. Those boys would go to Family Court if charged. The others are adults in the eyes of the law and would face their charges in adult court.

While freedom of speech comes into play for criminal charges, it doesn’t affect the boys’ school punishment. They can be suspended for any action that disrupts education, Wiles said, and that’s just what happened.

“It did affect the educational process within school because of the impact it had on our students,” she said. Students talked about it all day, and “not a lot” of learning happened Tuesday, she added.

And for some students, the song was so offensive that they could not bear to come to school.

“It has a profound impact on the people who are the recipients of it,” Wiles said. “It has the potential for tremendous consequences, and I don’t mean only punishment.”

School counselors have reached out to every student named in the song, and all of them were back in school Wednesday, she said.

They all seem to be doing OK, she added.

Guilderland High School Principal Thomas Lutsic sent home a letter Tuesday telling parents about the song.

It was “explicit” and contained “obscene and harassing language,” he said in the letter.

He called it cyberbullying and said it violated the school’s code of conduct.

“While the creators may have posted the audio clip as a ‘prank,’ these types of actions are a form of cyberbullying and may be harmful to others. As with any sort of bullying or harassment, there is undoubtedly a resulting negative impact on the entire school community,” he said.

He also asked parents to talk about the situation with their children and to teach them how to behave online.

Wiles added that she doesn’t know why the boys wrote and posted the song. The boys haven’t offered an explanation or motive.

“We simply don’t know why,” she said.

 
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