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Police, Havre de Grace High School Investigate Harassment Complaints

There were two incidents reported this week involving high school students, according to police.

Police were alerted to two incidents involving Havre de Grace High School students this week, according to Havre de Grace Police Department spokesman Jeff Gilpin. One was an allegation regarding sexual misconduct and the other was an allegation of cyberbullying.

A female student alleged that a male student groped her and exposed himself to her in the auditorium at Havre de Grace High School on Monday, Nov. 12, Gilpin said. 

“It was reported by the parents of the young lady” to the school, Gilpin said. As a result, the school alerted police. 

Touching of a sexual nature or displaying sexually explicit material constitutes sexual harassment, according to Harford County Public Schools policy, which states the school system “will take appropriate disciplinary or other action against any member of the school community who is found to have committed any act of sexual harassment…”

As of Nov. 15, Gilpin said police were still investigating the incident. The school system did not comment on the allegation.

“Things aren’t lining up right now,” Gilpin said of the information police have gathered. “These allegations are very serious and we must have all of the facts possible before action can be taken.”

Gilpin said a cyberbullying allegation was reported to police on Nov. 12. A parent reported that his or her daughter was being threatened on Facebook, according to police.  

The situation was “an argument between this young lady and another young lady about a young man,” Gilpin said. “There’s not much we can do. We referred the incident to our school resource officers.”

The school system did not immediately comment on the cyberbullying allegation and referred Patch to its policy on cyberbullying.

Teresa Kranefeld, communications manager for the school system, noted that the Harford County Board of Education updated its policy on “Bullying, Harrassment and Intimidation” last year to include language about cyberbullying.

According to the policy, cyberbullying is defined as "electronic communication that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities or performance, or with the student’s physical or psychological well-being."

There are several disciplinary actions that can result from cyberbullying, per the policy. However, cyberbullying must occur on school property or at a school event for officials to investigate it. School officials did not immediately respond to request for comment on the status  of the cyberbullying investigation.

In 2010–2011, there were approximately 50 cases of school bullying reported in Harford County, according to a 2012 Maryland State Department of Education report.

Kranefeld said that the school system is currently working on a cybersafety awareness campaign that will involve presentations for parents, student and staff later in the school year.

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