EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Following an optional meeting between administrators and Egg Harbor Township High School students after school Thursday, Dec. 1, Interim Superintendent Fred Nickles stated the district stands by its discipline of the students who made a viral rap video on school grounds.
The video, called “The 609,” was made by a student and posted to YouTube and quickly became viral before it was removed from the Internet on Monday, Nov. 28. It was reposted by Tuesday evening, and now several parodies are also online.
Filmed like a rap music video with the soundtrack of a profanity-filled rap song called "Outro" by Meek Mill, the video begins with images of the outside of the school and then shows interior scenes of teens playing dice in a restroom, dancing, standing on desks and an altercation in a hallway.
According to social media reports, the student or students involved in making the video were suspended for 10 days.
On Tuesday, Interim Superintendent Donna Haye told The Current that rumors that some students were expelled were not true. She also said no student lost any privileges such as attending prom or walking at graduation.
To protest the decision, between 100 to 200 students staged a walkout on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and as of Thursday, more than 700 people signed a petition on Change.org stating the administration was too harsh in its decision.
Supporters of the students quickly took to social media, claiming the punishment would negatively affect the students’ transcripts and future opportunities. Some said it restricted free speech and artistic creativity.
There was also an outpouring of support in favor of the district’s decision to reprimand the students, though no official petitions were created. Dozens of comments on online forums posited that the students damaged the school’s reputation and misrepresented the climate in the school.
According to the prepared statement Nickles sent to The Current on Thursday afternoon, he said he is aware of the community's concerns over the disciplinary decisions, adding that while administrators would not discuss specific student discipline with the public, rules were broken.
“The public should be aware that the video was not part of a school project and demonstrated numerous in-school infractions of the student code of conduct or board policies,” he stated. “The district expects all students to follow the school rules because such rules are enacted to make sure all students are able to be educated in a healthy and safe environment.
"The district will not allow other students to now use this situation as an excuse to engage in disruptive behavior."
Nickles said anyone with questions regarding the situation should contact Principal Terry Charlton at 609-653-0100.