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Gloucester Grapples With Students’ Racist Bruins Tweets

Last week, we reported on racist tweets referencing Joel Ward, the Bruins-Capitals series-winning goal-scorer, who is black. The slurs sparked condemnation from the Bruins, the NHL and many commentators, and initiated conversations about racism in sports and in Boston.

Capitals winger Joel Ward, center, is congratulated by teammates after his Game 7-winning goal against the Bruins. (AP)

Joel Ward, center, is congratulated by teammates after his Game 7-winning goal against the Bruins. (AP)

Over the last week, several communities and school districts have been grappling with possible sanctions over these public comments, including the North Shore city of Gloucester.

Amid the slurs that sparked outrage “were Twitter comments posted by at least five Gloucester High School students, including at least three GHS student-athletes,” the Gloucester Times details in its report today.

The Times reports that Gloucester Superintendent Richard Safier is conducting an investigation that, “he said, would consider whether disciplinary action would be warranted, and whether the schools have jurisdiction over the incident at all.”

The school district has an on-school-grounds Internet policy, the Times reports, and the city’s school committee “is in the process of working on a social media policy for students.” The Times adds that the district has a separate policy for participation in after-school activities, which says, in part, that students have to be “in good standing academically and socially.”

As the Boston Herald reported last week, similar investigations are under way at New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University and in Cumberland, R.I.

On Monday, Education Week, in its roundup of the fallout after the tweets, reported this on the larger issue of jurisdiction:

… The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year refused to take up appeals involving school discipline of online student speech, leaving the state of the law unclear. The question ultimately becomes: Does the landmark 1969 decision of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District apply to students’ out-of-school speech?

Via a quick Google search of recent similar incidents, three high school students in Lake Oswego, Ore., were suspended last month for sending out racist tweets.

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