Harrison police have confirmed with FOX19 NOW that they are conducting a criminal investigation at Harrison High School after officials discovered that inappropriate photos of students were circulating the school.
According to a letter sent to parents from Superintendent Chris Brown, the administration became aware Wednesday that an inappropriate picture of a student taken a few years ago was possibly circulating among students.
After further investigation, officials learned that it was not an isolated incident and there were actually several inappropriate photos that were shared with a large amount of students.
"We have confiscated five phones,” said Brown, Southwest Local School District Superintendent.
Officials say, from their understanding, the photos were taken by students and shared amongst them. Some photos were from the past and others had been taken recently, according to authorities.
"The picture had recirculated, but through our investigation, it was found out there are more pictures that had been shared with more students,” Brown said.
"From the description we have that there are some where kids are partially clothed we have been told that there are some where there is some nudity,” Brown told FOX19 NOW.
FOX19 NOW obtained the letter sent to parents Thursday. It read in part:
1. First of all this is a criminal offense. Any time someone takes, or is in possession or shares an illicit photo of a juvenile it is considered the illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance. Therefore, this matter has been turned over to the Harrison Police Department for further investigation.
2. The parents of the students whose names we received as being in the pictures have been contacted, however we DO NOT believe these are the only students involved. We believe there is a strong possibility that other students appear in these pictures.
3. We ask that you discuss with your child the serious nature of these actions. The fact that these pictures were made available to others, means there is no control over who and where they were sent.
4. As we have done in the past the district is in the process of securing a speaker or experts in the field to speak with our students on the legal as well as the personal effects this type of behavior can have on an individual.
5. We ask that you monitor your child's internet and phone usage. From our understanding, this sharing of pictures has been taking place for some time. In fact, a mother apologized, stating that she thought “we knew about these pictures”. If you ever suspect or find anything that you feel is inappropriate or could cause someone harm, we ask that you contact us immediately.
Safety is our number one priority for your child. We ask that you help us keep your child safe by being vigilant to what your child is doing with the technology that is so readily available to them today.
Superintendent Chris Brown says no school staff looked at those photos. They handed them straight to police once the investigation started.
"Everybody's constantly connected. People are constantly on their phones, and you don't think about what's on the other end of the phone, and where it'll go,” said George Hiler, a parent of a Harrison High School student.
"There's no repercussions in their mind. They think they're having fun, and they think it's neat. Unfortunately, it's not,” said Hiler.
A school board meeting was held at the high school Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
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