AUBURN, Maine — More than a dozen students at Saint Dominic Academy have been disciplined for violating the school’s code of conduct, Dave Guthro, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said Monday.
The diocese oversees the grades 7-12 Catholic school campus in Auburn. Guthro declined to offer details about why the students were disciplined, but media outlets have reported it was over sexting, which is the sending of nude images or videos by text messaging or other electronic means.
“A situation involving 15-20 students occurred, was discovered by administrators, and was stopped,” Guthro said. “No adults were involved in the incident.”
The Auburn Police Department was notified of the violations to the school’s code of conduct and is investigating, Guthro said. A message seeking comment from Auburn police was not immediately returned Monday.
“Punishments for the students involved have ranged from community service to suspension,” the spokesman said later. “A letter explaining what happened, and the school’s steps to address it, was sent to all Saint Dominic Academy parents.”
Sexting is legal for consenting adults. But those who possess or distribute nude images of minors in Maine are breaking the law, no matter their age.
After the situation was discovered, “Administrators at the school immediately notified parents of the students who were involved,” Guthro said. “It is not an ongoing problem at the school and the safety of the students was never threatened at any time.”
Guthro declined to answer questions about how many students were suspended and the gender of those involved. He said the school is going to make the situation into an educational opportunity.
“School administrators are assessing the situation and look forward to working with students and families to help in the growing, learning, and development of students, and to offer new educational opportunities to help students thrive when faced with challenging situations in their lives,” Guthro said.
“Parents and guardians of all Saint Dominic Academy students have received a letter with information about the matter and an invitation to call the administration at any time with further questions that they might have,” he added later.