School district warns of social media challenges

Vandalism reported in middle, high schools

Sequim’s secondary schools saw minor vandalism in September following a monthly challenge list on social media encouraging students to record acts of vandalism.

Last week, Sequim School District interim superintendent Jane Pryne sent an email to families that an October challenge to “slap a teacher” had gained attention nationwide.

“While we believe none of our students would participate in this challenge, we wanted people to be aware that any student who physically assaults a staff member will be held responsible legally,” she wrote.

“We have Zero Tolerance for any assault on any staff member.”

Pryne said via email Tuesday to the Gazette that the district has had no incidences of the October challenge at Sequim Middle and High schools.

“We had vandalism on a very small scale at both our secondary schools,” she said. “Mainly, it was soap dispensers that were torn down, spreading soap on surfaces, and plugging up toilets.”

At the middle school, Pryne said, a few students were “dealt with on an individual basis with personnel trained in Restorative Justice practices, and those students returned the items undamaged back to the school.”

At the high school, a few students “were dealt with individually through administrative channels,” she said.

Students who damaged school property are being asked to pay for repairs, Pryne added.

“Finally, through their Homeroom the discussion around this type of behavior not being tolerated, and utilizing Character Strong curriculum, is setting a path forward for students to positively interact with staff and students,” she said.

Deputy Police Chief Mike Hill said last week School Resource Officer Kyle Resser assisted with the investigation of one incident and it’s unknown how many students were involved and the fiscal amount of damage done as the incidents were handled by school leaders.

On why Pryne sent the email, she wrote to families that it is the district’s “duty to provide for the safety of all students and staff, which is why you are receiving this communication.”

The October challenge to “slap a teacher” has seen a few recorded incidents reported nationwide and none in Washington state. More monthly challenges included indecent exposure, assault, theft and further vandalism.

Nationwide, several news reports state that law enforcement and school district officials attribute the challenges being found on TikTok, a short-form video social network.

However, TikTok’s communications Twitter account stated on Oct. 6, “The rumored ‘slap a teacher’ dare is an insult to educators everywhere. And while this is not a trend on TikTok, if at any point it shows up, content will be removed.”

No videos for the challenge can be found on the platform as of press time.

TikTok posts its community guidelines here. A guide between the company and the National PTA can be found here.

Contact Sequim School District at 360-582-3260.

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