Social media incident sparks response from Saugerties school district

On Monday night, Nov. 17, Saugerties Central School District Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt posted a message to the district’s official website and Facebook page addressing a social media post that drew enough attention to be cause for concern, but which, he said, was determined to not be cause for concern.

Reinhardt said the matter had been brought to him that afternoon and was investigated by high school administrators, local law enforcement and the school’s resource officer, and that “the conclusion of the investigation was that there was no threat to the school or the community.”

On Tuesday, Reinhardt declined to share further information about the social media post that led to the investigation, including whether it involved a student or someone else. But the superintendent said that he felt compelled to make a statement to ensure unfounded rumors didn’t spread on social media or elsewhere.

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“It was brought to my attention and it had to be taken seriously, but it turned out to be nothing,” Reinhardt said. “But I thought it’d be better to get out ahead of it and let parents know that anytime we hear anything that’s going to be investigated.”

Reinhardt said that drawing attention to the district’s process in investigating potentially worrisome social media posts is also useful in reminding students that their online behavior can have repercussions, not only in the present, but also the future.

“My point is how do we take a situation and use it as a teachable moment with our young adults about what happens if you say something?” said Reinhardt. “If we treat everything as if it’s important, we can convince our students that what you say and do can be self-reflective.”

Reinhardt said that some assemblies in the district have focused on responsible use of social media, including the likelihood that something they post as a teenager may resurface when they’re older.

“When you apply for a job, they’re going to look at your Facebook page,” Reinhardt said. “When apply to college, they’re going to look at your social media. I tell students don’t put anything on Facebook you wouldn’t say in person.”

Reinhardt said that he was legally unable to elaborate on the specifics of the incident further than he did in his social media post, but he still felt he had to say something.

“I think it’s always important for me to put out what I legally can to my community,” he said. “I want parents to know that we take everything seriously and student safety is important.”

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