SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 10, 2009

What's wrong with 'meep'? It's all in how you say it

DANVERS — It's no surprise that using bad language in school can get you into hot water. But "meep"?

Danvers High parents recently got an automated call from the principal warning them that if students say or display the word "meep" at school, they could face suspension.

Meep doesn't mean much, unless you are Beaker — the hapless, orange-haired assistant to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew on "The Muppet Show."

While meep may be nonsense, what it represented was no laughing matter to the high school's administration. High school Principal Thomas Murray said students were using it and other words to disrupt school in a particular part of the building on Cabot Road. The term later became part of a disruption some students were planning online.

"It's really not about the word in particular," Murray said. "The reason for the message (was) a group of students were instructed to refrain from that language and other language in a particular part of the building."

Murray gave students "a reasonable request" not to use the word to disrupt school in a hallway, and to stop other behaviors, but they did not listen, Murray said.

"Students were not going along with the direction or refraining from a particular type of language," he said.

Murray did not elaborate on how the students were acting out. But he did say the phone call home was an attempt to head off a disruption being planned on the social networking Web site Facebook.

The disruption never happened, and Murray credited students for heeding his warning.

Murray said the school must react when online activity crosses paths with the school day. To that end, some students — Murray did not say how many — were suspended, but there were additional factors involved in their suspension unrelated to simply saying "meep."

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