ROCKVILLE, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Montgomery County’s superintendent says he received offensive tweets during last week’s winter weather from students urging him to close schools.

Joshua Starr says that he’s trying to use the episode as “a teachable moment.” He posted an open letter to parents on Friday about the need to help their children “interact with one another in a civil, respectful way.” Starr calls it “cybercivility.”

Students frequently send emails or tweets urging officials to close schools during snowy weather. But Starr says perhaps 10 tweets went too far, using curse words, racial epithets or threats.

Determining whether to cancel school or not “involves staff working at all hours to monitor road conditions and weather forecasts,” he wrote.

“As we were in the process of evaluating the situation, students started contacting me on Twitter. Some of these ‘tweets’ were clever, funny, and respectful, pleading for me to cancel school so they could sleep in or have more time to do their homework. Many of these tweets, however, were offensive and disturbing. Some were threatening to me and others. A few referenced my family. There was rampant use of racial epithets and curse words.”

School officials have informed the parents of those who sent inappropriate tweets. Starr would not go into specific punishments, but he says principals met with some students and “doled out consequences that are appropriate.”

“I’m writing this letter to start a conversation about how we can support our children in using technology in a way that is healthy, productive, and positive,” he wrote. “I have asked my staff to develop some materials and methods to help schools and families navigate these conversations, so look for more information about this in the near future.”

(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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