KINGS PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island student who was suspended over a sexting scandal said he was escorted from school after he arrived for class Tuesday morning.
Tenth-grader AJ Fenton defied his suspension and walked into Kings Park High School without incident, but said the principal wouldn’t let him stay.
“I said, ‘OK’ and then I walked with him outside,” AJ told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “He escorted me to the police.”
The teen’s father, Andrew Fenton, was waiting for him outside. Officers eventually told Fenton if he didn’t allow them to escort his son out peacefully, they would have to arrest him for trespassing, so he conceded.
“I don’t want to put him through being arrested,” Fenton said. “He did nothing wrong.”
Fenton said he has yet to receive any official notification of his son’s suspension for being sent a sexually explicit video involving a teenage girl.
“He was unjustifiably suspended,” he said. “A video came to his cellphone. He opened it. He didn’t do anything else with it.”
AJ also insists the suspension is unfair.
“I don’t think I should’ve got suspended at all,” he said. “I can’t stop someone from sending a text to me. I just looked at the video. I didn’t send it to anyone.”
Thomas Phelan said his son didn’t watch the video but was still suspended for being part of a group chat that received it. He said his son was too scared to go to school Tuesday.
“Last night I got a threatening phone call from the 4th Precinct detective squad that if my son goes to school or if I’m on school property, we’ll be arrested,” Phelan told CBS2’s Diane Macedo.
“He was all ready to get up to go to school, and this morning he was throwing up because he’s traumatized by what happened here.”
Other parents are also upset after at least 20 students at Kings Park High School and William T. Rogers Middle School were suspended for being sent the video.
“A kid to receive that on their phone, I don’t know how they punish those specific kids because you can’t stop what you receive on your phone,” parent Wayne Davignon told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
Parents said the school also forced students to sign witness statements and didn’t let parents know what was happening until their children were disciplined. Some parents of suspended students are planning civil lawsuits, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
“My son opened it, didn’t forward it to anybody and immediately erased it from his phone,” said Fenton. “I said I’m not agreeing to any suspension.”
But Fenton said that was enough to get his son suspended.
“Somebody forwarded a video to his phone, that he has no control over receiving it,” Fenton said. “They have no answers to any of this, just suspend whomever they want.
“My son’s going to go to college, and he’s going to be 18 and asked, ‘Were you ever suspended?’ and he’s going to have to say, ‘Yes for child pornography on my phone’? That’s ridiculous and absurd, and something has to happen with this whole social media.”
Suffolk County police say two 14-year-old boys from the Smithtown district were arrested — one for recording the video, the other for taking part in a sexual encounter with a girl. They then allegedly distributed the video by attaching it to a text message.
The boys, who have not been identified, face charges including disseminating indecent material to minors and promoting a sex act with a child. It’s not clear what will happen to the girl allegedly involved, Macedo reported.
Students at Kings Park High say the sext video was unwanted and unwarranted.
“People that send it around, I understand that (the discipline), but people that just receive it and aren’t even asking for it, it’s really not right,” said student Lauren Koniuch.
Timothy Eagen, superintendent of the Kings Park Central School District, released a statement Tuesday saying, in part, the district “believes that all student suspensions in relation to this alleged incident have been made in accordance with the district’s code of conduct. At this time, we do not anticipate any further suspensions. Due to New York State privacy laws, the district is prohibited from sharing any further details regarding individual student disciplinary matters.”
The school district also posted a letter to parents on its website that said: “Possession and/or disseminating of indecent material is illegal. This can be a serious violation of the KCPSD Code of Conduct and a crime, which can result in suspension and/or arrest.”
The superintendent told McLogan the students were not just suspended for looking at the images, but for violating the student code of conduct by failing to notify an adult.
Fenton said he’s also upset because he said many football players received the video but weren’t suspended because they’re in the playoffs.
St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington also sent out a letter to parents asking them to check their children’s cellphones for explicit materials in response to the Kings Park incident.