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Update on Century Middle School Suspensions

An undisclosed number of students were suspended on May 22 after sharing an inappropriate photo of another student.

 officials are still tight lipped as to how many  students were for their roles in sharing an inappropriate photo of another student.

While the district did confirm there were suspensions, officials wont say how long the suspensions will last, or the means in which the inappropriate photo was shared.

Indications are that some students will also be expelled for the incident, but student expulsions require more procedural obligations.

, an unidentified number of  students were suspended due to a May 21 incident in which an inappropriate photo was digitally disseminated around the school's student community.

Linda Swanson, communications coordinator for the district also said the incident was forwarded to the   for investigation. Once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the Dakota County Attorneys Office for possible charges.

Lakeville Police Chief Thomas Vonhof told the Star Tribune he couldn't speculate on the number of people involved in the incident, or if charges would come from the matter.

Swanson said Century Principal Catherine Gillach has sent a message to parents about the incident, and said she acted swiftly and appropriately with the disciplinary actions enforced.

The incident and subsequent suspensions generated rumors around the community over the number of students involved, something Swanson acknowledged the district can't control. A number of Facebook and Twitter posts on May 22 and 23, suggested as many as 50 students suspended, but Swanson confirmed the total number of students involved was not that high.

Under the state's Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, students can be suspended a maximum of 10 days. If the district is pursuing an expulsion, that number can jump to 15 days.

The district's Director of Administrative Services Tony Massaros said during a suspension, the district is obligated to provide alternative educational services, such as tutoring.

"As a general rule, we can't just say, for the next 10 days or whatever, you're not going to get any education," he said. 

According to the state statute, there are three grounds for a suspension or expulsion: willful violation of a school board regulation; willful conduct that disrupts students of education or the ability of a school to provide an education; or conduct that endangers pupils, staff or property.

In the event of an expulsion, which can last up to a year, the student can request a hearing by a school board committee or arbitrator where, after arguments, a hearing officer would make a recommendation.

"Basically, when you start getting to that level (of an expulsion), the consequences are a lot more serious," Massaros said.

Century Middle School is home to roughly 850 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, and classes are scheduled to end on June 7.

Gillach's message to parents:

Appropriate action was taken to address this situation. I want to assure you that we take very seriously our obligation to maintain a safe and respectful learning environment for your children and will continue to provide that at CMS.

Please understand that we are very limited in what we can communicate as a result of legal requirements and concern for the adolescent students involved.

A statement issued to Lakeville Patch by Swanson on May 23 reads as follows:

On Monday, May 22, the Century Middle School administration became aware of a possible student violation of another student's privacy using electronic means.

Working with the District Office and local law enforcement, building administrators took immediate action to investigate the matter. Appropriate actions were then taken to address this situation. The Lakeville Area Public Schools will continue to maintain a safe and respectful learning environment for all students.

Please understand that we are very limited in what we can communicate as a result of legal requirements and concern for the adolescent students involved.

 will have more on the story as it develops.

Catherine A May 24, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Im a 7th grader at century and the rumor going around right now is 61 suspended and 3 expelled 1 7th grader suspended and everyone else if 8th graders... I'm not going to share the names of anyone of course but hey, that's all we know as kids at century. That and there's been like 20,000 talks about using electronics approipriately during class.

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