Sources: Several students suspended over 'cruel' TikToks impersonating Chester Co. teachers

The school district says it is limited in what officials can share about disciplinary action.

Annie McCormick Image
Monday, July 8, 2024 10:49PM
Sources: Several students suspended over 'cruel' TikToks impersonating Chester Co. teachers
Sources: Several students suspended over 'cruel' TikToks impersonating Chester Co. teachers

CHESTER COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Great Valley School District in Chester County held a news conference on Monday to address issues over the 22 fake TikTok accounts created by students to impersonate their teachers.

The district released a statement Sunday saying the accounts were created by 8th graders at the Great Valley Middle School.

They were first discovered in February, district leaders say.

During a school board meeting on March 18, several parents expressed their concerns over the district's handling of the issue.

During that meeting, the President of the Great Valley Education Association Nikki Salvatico spoke about the graphic and disturbing nature of the accounts.

"The nature of these accounts include pornographic, racist, homophobic, and cruel pictures and texts depicting teachers, their families, and their children," Salvatico explained.

The school district says it is limited in what officials can share about disciplinary action.

Legal action could not be taken outside of school, officials noted, because the accounts were created on students' personal time and may represent their right to free speech.

Sources told Action News that several students have been suspended, however.

The district did say it took 'swift action' after learning about the videos. Some of its actions included holding an assembly for 8th graders about responsible social media use.

The district also consulted with local authorities and invited the attorney general's office to explain the consequences of misusing social media.

Even with that response, the district says it recently learned that the posts have continued.

Additionally, The New York Times released an in-depth article about the issue last week, bringing it to many people's attention for the first time.

Superintendent Dr. Daniel Goffredo addressed the new accounts, saying, "Unfortunately, we do know accounts continue to be created during the summer months. It's disheartening."

Goffredo also addressed questions from the media on Monday.

"I want to assure our staff that we have your back, we're going to continue to support you," he said. "It's very hard to find out who creates these online accounts, but we're doing our best."

"Our teachers came together in solidarity to support each other because that's what we do," Salvatico noted.

She said it's been emotional for the teachers who were targeted. Salvatico released the following prepared statement on Monday:

"Educating our students is our passion. We need to teach our students how to use technology in a safe environment for all. What we need is legislation and policy that will foster that environment."

"I think we need to take every approach necessary to teach right from wrong," Goffredo noted.

The superintendent said he did consult with authorities on Monday regarding the issue.

"We did investigate the complaint and ultimately consulted with the Chester County DA's office. We are monitoring the situation at this time," said Chris Yeager, chief of police for East Whiteland Township.