Twitter photo of undressed student at Durango prompts investigation

Photos of a female Durango High School student standing in a row of lockers in her underwear are spreading through the Twitterverse.

She holds her clothes to her face as students around her take cellphone pictures.

Tweets posted Wednesday claim she’s a special education student who was told by other students to undress, but other Durango students who posted claim otherwise. What happened, the subject’s student status, and whether she was coerced or voluntarily undressed, remains unclear.

As high school students across the Las Vegas Valley rapidly re-post the photo, bash Durango and debate the facts behind the snapshot this week, Clark County School District isn’t providing many answers to parents or the public.

District spokeswoman Melinda Malone confirmed Wednesday that the incident occurred Tuesday at the school, near Rainbow Boulevard and Russell Road, but would not offer details as to what happened, offering only a message that was sent home to parents at the southwest valley school.

It reads, “Please be advised that the Durango administration is actively investigating a social media issue involving several of our students. Safety and protection of our students is our highest priority and this matter has our full attention. Kindly remind your child that cyber bullying and harassment are serious issues that will not be tolerated. Thank you.”

Malone said she can’t disclose whether the pictured female student is a special education student. That information is protected by student privacy laws, she said.

But the photo, posted Tuesday, could have consequences.

Durango reported 56 student suspensions or expulsions in the 2012-13 school year for student-on-student violence, according to the Nevada Department of Education. That’s twice the district average of 28 suspensions/expulsions in that category for its 49 high schools. It’s also an increase of almost 150 percent from Durango suspensions/expulsions for student-on-student violence in 2011-12.

Durango does suspend and expel students for bullying/intimidation, doing so 14 times last school year compared with the district average of nine per high school.

Bullying suspensions/expulsions includes “cyber bullying,” which the district defines as harassment through the use of electronic devices, such as writing mean-spirited messages about someone or posting embarrassing photos. State lawmakers and district officials have set a zero-tolerance policy for cyber bullying.

In 2012-13, the district suspended or expelled 407 students for bullying/intimidation. In comparison, 1,302 students received the same punishment for student-on-student violence. Another 180 district students were suspended for violence to school staff.

The state has long required schools report suspensions or expulsions for violence, weapons and drugs. But, in 2011, state lawmakers passed a bill mandating that all districts report bullying incidents that resulted in suspensions or expulsions. Also, school staff must report all bullying incidents – witnessed or rumored – to school principals. Principals must then investigate each one.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.