On the first day of school since an end-of-the-quarter English class presentation showed pictures of students possessing or drinking alcohol, Woodbury High School students and parents were left questioning the wisdom of using Facebook and other social networking sites.
Twelve students were questioned and four were disciplined after Friday's incident, where a senior used pictures pulled from Facebook in a project designed to simulate a final address to the senior class.
It was the second time in a month that students at a metro area high school were disciplined after underage-drinking photos surfaced on the site; Eden Prairie High School questioned 42 students and doled out punishment to 13 in a similar incident.
"This is important to them. This is the way they communicate," said Karen Wojcik, a parent representative on the school's site team. "I don't think it's going away anytime soon. You have to try to stay ahead of it."
Woodbury High School Principal Linda Plante was not available for comment on Tuesday, the first day of the new quarter for students after a day off Monday for a teacher workshop.
She sent a letter to parents on Monday saying "this incident gives us a chance to have some important conversations with the people we care about."
The letter reminded parents of a Feb. 4 parent workshop on the issues surrounding sites like Facebook and MySpace, though district spokesperson Barbara Brown said the session was planned before the incident surfaced.
Brown said the district blocks access to social networking sites from its computers, but will not monitor students' pages unless pictures are brought to their attention.
"We can educate, but we can't control," she said.
Woodbury seniors Monica Nelson and Lindsay Keenan, who both said they have Facebook pages, said their classmates shouldn't place the blame solely on the senior who used the pictures in his presentation.
The larger lesson, they said, is to watch what's being displayed on the site -- or to simply avoid situations that could bring trouble later on.
"We're not that stupid," Nelson said. "If you post that stuff, it's just a matter of time before you get caught. They were asking for it."
Plante's letter said the school district first consulted its legal counsel and the Minnesota State High School League, which penalizes students in athletics or extracurricular activities for drinking.
It added, "the consequences students received depended on the information from the investigation and the rules governing the activities in which they participate."
Ben Goessling • 651-298-1546