A Parkside High School student has been charged with misuse of electronic mail and disturbing school activities after he shared a video of himself holding what appeared to be a rifle while at school.
The video also contained violent and racist rhetoric, according to school officials.
The 15-year-old from Willards, who is the son of a Board of Education member, was charged as a juvenile. The case has been referred to the Department of Juvenile Services, according to the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office.
After learning of the incident, parents and others in the community have called for the board member to resign. There also have been accusations that school officials have been slow to act because the student is white and has ties to the board.
The complaints prompted Board of Education Chairman Gene Malone and outgoing Superintendent Donna Hanlin to respond with a joint video statement on the matter.
“The investigation into this matter is by no means being stalled or swept under the rug,” Hanlin said. “The student involved in this matter will be treated no differently than any other student regardless of his race or family connections.”
Hanlin said school officials are prohibited by law from sharing what consequences any student may face as the result of an investigation. The board’s Code of Conduct will be followed “as it is with all students,” she said.
Malone said the board cannot force the removal of one of its members unless there has been “egregious misconduct while in office” which “does not appear to apply here.”
School officials were “sickened by the display of hatred,” Malone said.
“We feel it is important to reiterate to the community that the student’s hateful recording with its message of racial violence is inconsistent with what the Wicomico County Board of Education condones or teaches in its classrooms.”
The incident at Parkside dates from June 14 when students brought the video to the attention of a school resource officer. The video, which was being shared among students, was of an individual who was reportedly a student at the school holding what appeared to be a rifle while making inappropriate and insensitive remarks that were threatening in nature, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s Office personnel immediately launched an investigation and positively identified the student in the video. During that investigation, deputies recovered the rifle that was brandished and determined it to be a pellet rifle. That pellet rifle has been seized as part of the investigation.
Following the incident, the student did not return to classes for the remainder of the school year.
This is currently an active and on-going investigation and the Sheriff’s Office is continuing to work with the Board of Education while consulting with the State’s Attorney’s Office.