School spokesman Doug Young lashed out at the operators of "I'm Shmacked," which he described as a video project and related online business run by a former Lower Merion student.
"Communities across the country are struggling with these same issues - with teenagers making incredibly dangerous decisions involving drugs and alcohol. For a company to glorify and profit from these behaviors is particularly appalling," Young said.
Mike McGrath, Lower Merion police superintendent, said the department's juvenile unit had a copy of the video and was investigating.
"It is unknown at this time whether the investigation will lead to criminal charges being filed against anyone," McGrath said.
The Facebook page for "I'm Shmacked" identified its creators as Yofray Ray, 18, and Arya Toufanian, 19. Ray's personal Facebook page says he graduated from Lower Merion High and lived in Narberth before moving to Manhattan. Toufanian is studying at George Washington University, according to his personal Facebook page, and grew up in Potomac, Md.
Ray and Toufanian described the series of college videos as "a movie documenting the experience of a weekend at 20 of the best and biggest universities around the United States intertwined with a book and a website being pitched to major publishers and studios."
"No alcohol or illegal substance is used during the filming, just props for a movie," the Facebook page states. "However, I personally am completely Shmacked when filming/photoing."
McGrath said one aspect of the investigation was to check the videographers' contention that the substances were only props.
"Clearly the video depicts underage drinking and illegal drug use," McGrath said.
Montgomery Couny District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said that while she was troubled by illegal acts depicted in the video, the taping itself did not warrant investigation by the county.
She called those who appear in such videos unwise because once personal material is online, "it can be used against you."
If parents were alarmed, they were not telling school officials. On Wednesday, Young reported there had been a single phone call from a parent.
The video that was posted on the CBS3 website shows young people drinking what looks like alcohol, smoking from a bong, displaying what appears to be marijuana, breaking a window, and staggering down a flight of steps as if drunk.
Students interviewed outside Lower Merion High in Ardmore after class Wednesday had mixed feelings about the video.
Junior Braden McMahon said he didn't want the incident to reflect badly on the school district: "The most important thing to take away from this is that Lower Merion is still a great place to go to school. I don't think a four-minute video of a small group of people changes that."
Senior Stanko Ivanovic, 17, said "I'm Shmacked" was well-known to his peers.
"Everyone's just laughing about it. I don't really have concern because I'm not into that. I don't do it," he said.
Young, the school spokesman, said the district learned of the video Tuesday afternoon from the media. Not long after, the video was taken down.
The letter to parents, signed by Harriton principal Steven Kline and Lower Merion principal Sean Hughes, said the video was filmed away from the school campuses last summer.
The two principals called for "swift and appropriate consequences" for those involved. Young said any disciplinary measures would remain private.
Young said the district did not know how many students were involved in the video. Families of students who are identified will be notified over the next two days.
In the meantime, the district intends to use the incident as a teaching tool. There will be classroom discussions of the video over the next week, Young said.
Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philly.com staff writers Josh Fernandez and Ashley Nguyen contributed to this article.