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updated: 5/22/2014 12:05 PM

Wheaton cops, school investigating 'dummy' social media accounts

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Wheaton police are investigating "dummy" social media accounts that recently posted inappropriate images involving Edison Middle School students and staff members, authorities said Wednesday.

Edison families received an email Tuesday from Principal Rachel Bednar indicating the school is working with police to investigate and resolve the issue.

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"To the best of our knowledge and understanding, the inappropriate social media accounts have been deactivated," Bednar wrote. "The authorities believe they have identified all of the individuals involved in this incident and appropriate action will be taken."

Wheaton police Chief Mark Field said in an email that the investigation is for "harassment with an electronic communication." All other information, he said, is confidential under the Illinois Juvenile Court Act.

Erica Loiacono, director of public relations for Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, said the offenses occurred on Instagram. She said the district became aware of them earlier this week after being contacted by authorities.

"They were images that were created. They were not true images," she said, adding that the offenses occurred over a "relatively short period of time."

Superintendent Brian Harris said more than one post was made on the alias account that featured a "combination of images" with "a lot of creative cutting and pasting going on."

The district is in the middle of its disciplinary process with the student offenders, Harris said. He did not disclose how many students were involved, but said it was more than one.

"This is another example of where it's so important for schools and parents to have great relationships and partnerships," Loiacono said. "Together, we are responsible for the raising of our children and teaching them how to be good people and how to be safe."

Harris said he appreciated the police department's cooperation and a districtwide letter likely will be sent to families soon. He said the district will use this as a learning opportunity for parents and students.

"I think as a society we have to continue to educate how important the social responsibility is for these tools," he said.

In the past year, the district has held multiple parenting seminars about how to talk to children about the benefits and negatives of social media, Loiacono said.

"Those were very well-attended and very popular," she said.

Loiacono said middle school students are required to take a digital citizenship course that teaches them how to be responsible citizens in the cyberworld.

"We do have a formal curriculum around this," she said.

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