Board says Disney prank story has 'gotten out of hand'
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 1:25PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 22, 2013 5:12PM EST
A Disney World prank involving grade school students in Windsor has taken on a life of its own, gaining international attention and sparking debate and outrage amongst viewers and readers.
CTV Windsor first reported the story on Wednesday.
“We have taken the official position that this has now gotten out of hand,” says Scott Scantlebury, public relations officer for the Great Essex County District School Board. “It's been dealt with and we will have no further official comment on the event.”
It stems from an incident at Roseland Public School last week. Teachers told two Grade 8 classes they were planning a trip to Disney World in Florida, but the students later discovered it was all a big joke.
Parents told CTV News teachers made fake field trip forms and brochures and even videotaped the reaction when the students were told it wasn't happening. They were instead told they were going to a local bowling alley.
The story has gotten thousands of hits on the CTV Windsor website and ignited outrage in reader’s comments.
International news outlets, including ABC, BBC and The Huffington Post are also running the story.
Bonnie Stewart, a parent of two duped students, is shocked at the fallout from some teachers' actions at the school.
“With the media, there’s been so much attention. They had the police there today for the kids’ safety, so there's been lots of interruption,” says Stewart. “Really, they need to get back to business of learning, which they're ready to do.”
She doesn’t want the teachers to be punished. She says they know what they did wrong and she feels sorry for them.
“My daughter says her teacher was crying,” says Stewart. “I feel horrible, really I do. It wasn’t the intention when all of this started, I actually do feel for them.”
The school board is also surprised at the international interest in the prank.
“We are somewhat surprised by the level of attention, though, considering the inter-connectedness of information sharing via the internet, we are not incredulous, by any means,” says Scantlebury.
“Our understanding of the media, as an organization, provides us with an appreciation for how stories like this become sensationalized, overblown and exaggerated,” he says.
Scantlebury says they will continue to maintain an open, helpful and collegial relationship with the media.
“We are in no way resentful of this group of professionals trying to do their jobs,” says Scantlebury.
It is unknown if the teachers will be punished for their actions. Scantlebury says it is the board’s policy to not publicly discuss discipline. He says it's a matter between the employer and employee, unless there is a public safety concern involved, which in this case there isn't.
Director of education Warren Kennedy has spoken directly to the teachers involved, but Scantlebury says that doesn’t mean they have been disciplined.
“I am not saying whether it was or whether it wasn't, but it did happen,” says Scantlebury.
The two teachers and two student teachers involved apologized to parents of the students on Thursday.