January 9, 2014 5:00 pm
Updated: January 9, 2014 5:04 pm

Students suspended for sending ‘mean tweets’ to school board

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Watch the video above: Peel District students could face suspension over Twitter posts. Peter Kim reports. 

UPDATE (Jan. 9, 4:00 p.m.): Brian Woodland, director of communications for the PDSB, confirmed Thursday that multiple students have been suspended for their tweets.

Woodland would not specify how many students have been suspended, or the schools they attend. The students names will not be released for privacy reasons.

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TORONTO – A handful of students from two different Toronto-area school boards are in hot water after using foul language and inappropriate remarks to express their anger for not getting a snow day.

The angry and explicit tweets came Monday morning after the Peel District School Board tweeted that although some buses weren’t operating due to weather conditions, that schools would remain open for business.

Some students reacted with anger – one user tweeting the PDSB account saying, “Shoutout to @PeelSchools for f***ing my day up,” – but others responded with threatening remarks.

According to Brian Woodland, director of communications for the PDSB, a “handful” of students are facing consequences for tweeting things that were sexist, racist, homophobic, and even threatening.

“Right now we know there are a couple of students we specifically followed up [on] with schools to report what we thought was language that was threatening, or inappropriate – sexist, homophobic, racist,” Woodland told Global News.

“Suspension could be an end result, but it could also be in school consequence.”

Woodland noted that it wasn’t just the PDSB’s social media team who noticed some of the “mean tweets” – parents and community members also contacted the board to express concerns.

Inappropriate tweets were also spotted from students attending schools in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said that suspensions are always a possibility for students who aren’t acting in accordance to the board’s code of conduct online.

“While suspensions are always a possibility for online conduct that is not becoming according to the code of conduct, it’s more about education. We really want to give students the head’s up that the things you say online are very public,” said Bird.

WATCH: Interview with TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird on how their school board deals with offensive tweets sent by students.

Both the TDSB and the PDSB said that they use their Twitter accounts to respond to students whose language or behaviour is inappropriate on social media.

Both boards were using the hashtag #MeanTweets and #EveryoneCanSeeYou to respond to some of the tweets about the snow day; however, some students had deleted their tweets after being called out.

Dar Refaeli, Director of Social Media at irisemedia.com, told Global News that it’s important for students to learn that what they say online is public and that tweets can be seen by anyone – even after they are deleted.

“Once you tweet or post something in the social media world it can often stay out there for years – it cannot be deleted,” Refaeli said.

“You’re not speaking to your close friends. Your tweets have the potential to reach a huge audience of hundreds of millions of people, so always keep that in mind before you tweet.”

WATCH: Would the TDSB be justified in suspending the students for their tweets?

This isn’t the first time that people have felt repercussions after tweeting.

In August, a Vaughan, Ont.-area Mr. Lube employee tweeted a public request for a drug dealer to deliver some goods to his workplace. Thanks to a re-tweet from York Regional Police, the tweet went viral and he was eventually fired from his job.

READ MORE: Important lessons social media taught us in 2013

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