Md. high school investigating after video shows student bullying classmate with special needs

Officials at a high school in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, say they are investigating after a video showing a student bullying a classmate with special needs and using racial slurs was widely shared with students and staff earlier this week.

The video was shared via AirDrop on Tuesday afternoon with a “multitude of students and staff in our building,” Lindsay Abruzzo, the principal of Severna Park High School, said in a Jan. 10 letter to parents.

AirDrop is a feature on Apple devices that lets users send photos, videos and other files to others — including strangers — whose phones are in proximity.

The video shows a student speaking with another student during a lunch period using “language that is beyond inappropriate,” Abruzzo said in the letter. “The student’s words include a racial epithet and phrases that are belittling and demeaning to a person with special needs. They also imply a threat of harm to the student on the receiving end, who is a student with special needs.”

Abruzzo added, “As a school community, we must never condemn children. However, I do condemn the actions in this video in the strongest possible terms.”

Abruzzo said the school system is supporting the student who was seen on video being bullied “and continuing to investigate this matter as swiftly as possible.”

She said it does not appear that the video was actually taken on the date it was shared via AirDrop and that the video was taken by someone other than the two people seen in the video. School officials are still trying to identify the person who took the video and don’t know if it’s the same person who shared it via AirDrop.

“I implore you to talk to your student as soon as possible, both to glean any information that may be helpful to our investigation but more importantly to impart to them that actions such as this are simply not OK,” Abruzzo told parents in the letter. “We cannot and will not tolerate such actions and we will take aggressive and appropriate disciplinary action with regard to any student who engages in such activity.”

She applauded the many students and staff members who she said “rushed to our administrative office” to make school administrators aware of the video after it first began circulating.

“Their quick and decisive action — and, quite frankly, their anger at the situation — shows that the behavior depicted in this video is not reflective of our overall student population,” she said.

The principal said parents should encourage students to report any situations that make them feel unsafe to adults immediately. Safety concerns can also be shared anonymously to the Safe Schools Maryland Tip Line at 833-MD-B-SAFE, which is available 24 hours a day.

Severna Park High School, located on Robinson Road in Severna Park, has roughly 1,800 students in grades 9 though 12.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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