The Vrij Technische Instituut (VTI) admitted looking at two of its pupil’s Facebooks on Tuesday, but the technical school’s Management staff denied systematically screening all the profiles later that day. It met with the two pupils concerned and their parents. “We learned that two of our pupils had posted disturbing messages on their Facebooks”, said the school’s Principal Els Vander Hoeven. “We simply checked it out. As a school, we don’t do that systematically. But we become aware of certain things”.
In the case of the two pupils concerned, the school found clear signs of radicalization. “These messages alarmed us. We immediately contacted the dedicated telephone line set up by Alost police for this type of issue”. The school admitted having made “a tactical error”. “When necessary, and whatever the issue, we usually talk to the pupils concerned and their parents. We didn’t do that in this case, and we regret it”. The Technical Institute therefore apologized to the pupils and their parents. “Gaining the trust of pupils and parents is at the heart of the establishment’s teaching method. This is why we had a meeting with the pupils and their parents on Tuesday morning”.
The school said it would continue to strictly apply the protocol to fight radicalization when necessary in the future, after speaking to pupils and their parents. “Cases could still be reported”, the Principal warned. The school also added that the apology does not detract from the seriousness of the pupil’s actions. “Our main concern is the general well-being and safety of all the pupils at the school”.