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School Questions Discipline After Student Suicide (Photo)

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The suicide of 16-year-old Corey Walgren has raised issues for schools on how to administer punishment during sensitive investigations, particularly those dealing with sexual activity.

Walgren, a straight-A high school student in the affluent Chicago suburb of Naperville, committed suicide after he was called to the principal's office to discuss a video he took of himself and another high school student having sex, according to The Associated Press.

Schools have begun to revisit their protocols in respect to these issues after Walgren's death, examining whether they ought to contact the student's parents before making further decisions on punishment. The practice of searching of cellphones for illicit videos and photos has also come under scrutiny.

Walgren and another unnamed high school student engaged in sexual activity while in a parked car. At some point Walgren took out his cellphone and put it on his leg, capturing audio but little video as the two fell out of frame. Walgren then played the recording for a few of his friends while at a hockey practice but did not send it to anyone.

The female student initially stated she was "unsure" if the sex was consensual but later clarified it was.

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In January 2017, school administrators became aware of the recording and called Walgren into the dean's office for questioning. A local police officer who provided security for the school was also present at the interrogation.

The police officer then asked Walgren if he could download and remove the "illegal images" from his cellphone, according to the Chicago Tribune. Walgren agreed. An internal investigation report from the department noted that the conversation between Walgren and the officer "was short, not prolonged, and the tone of the conversation was agreeable."

Walgren's family is suing the school, seeking $5 million in damages, for "unnecessarily traumatizing" their son and threatening legal action against him, per WLS-TV. The dean and police officer also told Walgren that he might be forced to register as a sex offender since his partner was underage.

"They scared the hell out of the kid, and that's what drove Corey to kill himself," said Walgren family attorney Terry Ekl.

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The police officer who questioned Walgren was found to have followed proper police procedure during the interview and was cleared of any wrongdoing, according to the Chicago Tribune. Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall called Walgren's death a tragedy but stated the Walgrens had "mischaracterized" the officer's actions.

The civil lawsuit remains ongoing.

Sources: The Associated Press via WLS, Chicago Tribune / Featured Image: Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Walgren Family via Chicago Tribune, Public Domain Pictures

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