School officials at Annapolis High School are disciplining 11 students involved with distributing a photo taken of a student without his or her consent on social media.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the students are facing punishments ranging from office referrals to expulsion based on their level of involvement in the violation.
Mosier said a student took a picture of another student without his or her knowledge, sent it in a message with a comment to several students, which then was posted on social media.
Mosier would not describe the nature of the photo, or the comments made by students, but said the actions violated the student handbook.
A school administrator was made aware of the incident Monday, and appropriate action had been taken by Tuesday, including notifying the affected parents, Mosier said.
It's possibly the largest cyberbullying violation in the school system since new rules were passed on the issue in 2010.
"I'm not aware of (a larger) one," Mosier said. "But it's no secret that anyone with a smartphone has the ability to distribute a text message or a social media posting to a very wide audience instantaneously."
Mosier said schools take bullying in all its forms very seriously, and reinforce lessons on how to prevent bullying, and how to report it.
Since 2010, the school system has strengthened its bullying policies, and in 2012 established guidelines for usage of social media. These rules establish how social media can be used legitimately by students and faculty, as well as setting boundaries in cases where it is misused.
Earlier this month, House Bill 396, commonly known as “Grace’s Law,” went into effect. The law was inspired by a 15-year-old Howard County teen who committed suicide on Easter Sunday in 2012, and makes it a crime to bully someone repeatedly online.