The death of a Staples High School freshman during the school district’s holiday recess — the subject of widespread discussion by students via social media — prompted Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon to state Tuesday that many of the “harmful” and “disrespectful” comments are spreading “misinformation.”

Christopeher J. Lanni, a 14-year-old freshman, died Dec. 23, according to his obituary, and his funeral was Dec. 28. School officials formally announced Lanni’s death to the Staples community Monday when classes resumed after the holiday break, but in the meantime, the circumstances of his death had been a topic of comments by students on social media.

"It has come to my attention that not all community members have acted in (a) respectful manner," Landon read from a prepared statement at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

"I want to take this opportunity to address those members of the school community who have used social media and other means of communication to assign blame for the tragic passing of Christopher Lanni," the superintendent said. "The spread of misinformation is harmful to our community.

“The spreading of misinformation is disrespectful to Christopher and his family. The spreading of misinformation is directly opposed to the civic, social and ethical responsibilities we wish to instill in our students,” he added.

The first school board meeting of the year began with somber acknowledgment of Lanni’s death, including a moment of silence in his memory. Chairman Michael Gordon noted that Lanni had been a member of Boy Scout Troop 39, held a black belt in karate and enjoyed break dancing.

"The district will continue to support our students, our staff and our parents and will work with the Lanni Family in any way that we can to support them at this time," Landon said. "I am asking that all members of our community continue to respect the privacy of the Lanni family, refrain from spreading misinformation, and support each other in a positive and respectful manner."

On Monday, in announcing Lanni’s death to the Staples student body, interim Principal Mark Karagus said school counselors, psychologists or social workers are available to help any students or staff members who feel the need for support.