HOUSTON – It is a new twist on an old problem: bullying.
The mother of a Hogg Middle School student said Monday that her son has been sexually harassed and cyberbullied on a chat app sanctioned by Houston Independent School District.
“This is their verbal chat room, where the teachers are discussing their assignments,” the woman said.
KPRC 2 Investigates is not revealing the woman’s identity at her request. Her son, who she said is a special needs student, was subjected to foul language and hand-drawn images that are not fit for sharing publicly.
“Threatening to kill him, sending him porn images of rape and sodomy, homosexual and heterosexual, and this all happened on the HISD teams app,” she said.
Microsoft Teams is a communications platform with a chat function. Students have the ability to start their own unmonitored chat rooms.
The bullying started at the end of the school year and continued into the summer. The chat app is still available to students.
HISD Police are investigating the incident.
The Houston Independent School District released a statement regarding the incident:
Acts of sexual harassment and bullying, whether in-person or online, are a serious violation of the Houston Independent School District’s Code of Student Conduct, as well as, Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
Once a report is made to the district, the district begins an investigation and takes immediate steps to protect students while the investigation is pending. In instances where reports are made to the HISD Police Department and these matters rise to the level of a crime, allegations may also be investigated by HISD PD.
The district encourages all students and staff members to foster a climate of mutual respect for others in order to enhance HISD’s educational purpose and protect the academic, social and emotional well-being of its students.