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Originally published January 15, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Page modified January 15, 2010 at 8:02 PM

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McClure students suspended in alleged cyberbullying of classmate

More than 20 students at McClure Middle School have been suspended for allegedly bullying one of their classmates over the Internet.

Seattle Times education reporter

More than 20 students at McClure Middle School have been suspended for allegedly bullying a classmate over the Internet.

A Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman said school administrators learned Tuesday evening about the alleged bullying, and investigated Wednesday.

The students were suspended for two to eight days, depending on their level of involvement, said Patti Spencer, district spokeswoman.

Lisa Fitch, a co-president of the school's PTSA, said her understanding was that the incident involved a Facebook page that students were asked to sign up for if they didn't like a particular student.

She said she doesn't think the page was up for more than 24 hours.

Fitch and John Loacker, the other co-president, both supported Principal Sarah Pritchett's decision to suspend the students.

"In middle school, they're very young and they're going to make mistakes, and I commend the school for dealing with it," Fitch said. Although the bullying didn't take place on school grounds "it still creates a hostile environment for a child," she said.

Still, Loacker said it pains him that McClure is getting singled out for something negative when so much good happens there. "We've created a very positive environment for our children at McClure," he said.

Spencer said that staff members have had discussions with the suspended students and their parents, and the principal plans to hold assemblies to discuss appropriate and safe Internet use.

One of the district's nine middle schools, McClure, on Queen Anne Hill, has about 550 students. The school has an anti-bullying program and a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, Spencer said.

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or lshaw@seattletimes.com

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