Students at a middle school in Melrose, Massachusetts, could face disciplinary action and possibly even criminal charges following a bullying incident Friday that school officials say was inspired by an episode of the show "South Park."
The incident occurred Friday when students at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School chose to imitate a 2005 "South Park" episode called "Ginger Kids," in which they target and kick red heads, according to a statement posted on the school's website.
School officials called the incident "unacceptable," saying the students used "poor judgment." They said the incident did not involve the entire seventh grade, and for the most part didn't include students in grades six and eight.
"We are outraged by the behavior and poor decisions made by a group of students and we are concerned for both the victims and the aggressors for the impact this will have on them. We are incredibly disappointed," the statement said.
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School officials said the behavior took place mostly in corridors and stairwells in between classes. When they became aware of the incident around 11:30 a.m. Friday, a public announcement was made ordering the behavior to stop and informing students that this could be considered assault and that any students who were involved would be subject to disciplinary action. A message was also sent out to parents at the end of the day explaining what happened.
Disciplinary hearing letters were sent home to the parents of students identified as aggressors. The parents of students who were hurt were contacted by phone.
School officials said they have reviewed surveillance tapes and spoken with students and families about the incident.
They have also been in contact with Melrose Police, and it is possible that charges may be brought if any students are found to have engaged in an assault.
Investigation into the incident is ongoing, school officials said. Disciplinary hearings are expected to continue through next week.