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Updated Friday, 7 August, 2015 by www.abc.net.au
A survey by a Newcastle teenager on the cutting of the city's rail line has outraged a public figure on social media, who has labelled the school project "appalling".
The year 11 student constructed the poll for his senior geography project, calling it 'Survey on the closure on the Newcastle rail line'.
An opposing page 'Newcastle For Change' also shared the survey, prompting former Newcastle Liberal candidate Karen Howard to label it "appalling" and "a disappointing effort from a young person".
A debate broke out, with Ms Howard questioning the survey's authenticity before commenting that the teen had opened himself up to "a highly and essentially an un-controlled environment."
Ms Howard said she has serious concerns about a school assignment appearing on social media for open review and has also raised concerns about cyber bullying directed at her.
She has now said sorry for her initial comments.
"I will unreservedly apologise for any hurt that my comment has caused the young person involved," she said.
"I'm very happy to help him in any way that I can."
Ms Howard said she is concerned by how some have used the matter to further their own agendas.
"What is disturbing is the political mileage that has been sought out of this matter.
"If we have the best interests of the young person at heart, continued references to it on other versions of social media are pretty unhelpful."
Some posters on social media suggested the teenager was linked to those against the cutting of the rail line, in particular, the Save Our Rail group.
But Save Our Rail vice-President Kim Cross said there is no connection.
"I was very disappointed to read that people who have got a high profile in our community would be so negative about what seems to be a student who has taken some initiative about an issue that is a major one in our community," she said.
"What we really need to do is encourage our young people to be aware of what is going on in the community."
The survey is no longer accessible online.
A message reads "Thank you to everyone who has responded, I appreciate them".
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