Students face possible discipline for possessing inappropriate images

Madison Gallo, Lauren Cohen , and Molly Heintze

(Editor’s Note: In the 2008 incident, pictures were transmitted to the school laptops through external drives. A previous version of this article incorrectly states that they were transmitted via the school network.)

Pascack Valley High School held mandatory assemblies throughout the day on Friday after administrators found several students to have and/or to be sending inappropriate nude and partially nude images of fellow students on their cell phones, according to an email sent to parents and guardians of the students by Erik Gundersen, the Superintendent of the Pascack Valley Regional High School District, on Thursday afternoon.

Early Friday morning, PV Principal, Mr. Tom DeMaio described the situation to be “widespread.”

District administrators are investigating this in conjunction with the Hillsdale Police Department with cooperation from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and other law agencies, according to the email sent by Gundersen.

DeMaio said the administrators are dealing with some students and their school consequences, but that he could not give any more details about that. The police also have a certain protocol to follow in this type of situation.

Students at the assemblies heard that anyone who has a picture has 48 hours to remove the photo or photos from their phone. If pictures are still on their phone after the 48 hours is up, they can be charged with a second-degree crime and could potentially be labeled and have to register as a Megan’s Law offender, DeMaio said.

In Gundersen’s email, he encouraged parents to have their children’s electronic devices cleared of all “questionable images or videos” by 8 a.m. Friday morning.

“If you’re 18 you are chargeable because you’re not a minor,” DeMaio said.

DeMaio said it wasn’t right that the students had possession of these photos but that they didn’t want to pursue the full law on people who don’t necessarily understand it.

“I get very disappointed when we know what’s right and wrong and then make the wrong decision,” DeMaio said.

In 2008, a similar situation occurred in which several freshmen were found to be in possession of nude images of their fellow students. The images had been transmitted via the students’ laptops via external and USB drives.