Kiel Middle School receives 2nd bomb threat, no classes Wednesday
KIEL, Wis. (WBAY) - Kiel Middle School received another bomb threat Tuesday as the district continues to investigate allegations of harassment against three boys.
On May 24, at about 7:40 a.m., police received an email with a threat referencing the Title IX investigation by the district. The threat was also sent to some members of the media and a school staff member.
It’s the second bomb threat in two days. The district was evacuated Monday for a bomb threat against the middle school.
Classes were canceled Tuesday due to the threats. The school was locked and no students or staff were in any school buildings at the time of Tuesday’s threat.
A search of the building turned up no devices and it was cleared.
A letter sent to students Tuesday says schools will be closed again on Wednesday, May 25 to allow staff to prepare for virtual learning on Thursday and Friday. The superintendent says the district will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates about plans for learning next week.
“I just wish everyone would calm down and start taking so we can try and resolve these issues peacefully and the anger and hatred that’s being spread on this issue is really disheartening,” Chief David Funkhouser with the Kiel Police Department said Monday.
The Kiel Police Department has enlisted the help of the State Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in investigating threats.
Funkhouser says he recommended the Kiel School Board either postpone their May 23 meeting or go virtual. The board has opted to have a virtual meeting on May 25.
Funkhouser says he supports rights to express opinions to the school board, but he was concerned for their safety.
In April, the parents of the three boys were notified their sons were being charged by school district officials with sexual harassment. A section of Title IX prohibits gender-based harassment in the form of name-calling on the basis of sex.
The district claims the boys were not referring to a student’s requested pronouns of “they” and “them.”
Through a letter from their attorney, the parents are asking for the charges to be dropped immediately, saying they have no standing legally.
“It’s not sexual harassment under Title IX, under their own policy, under federal law, and it’s probably a First Amendment violation. Almost certainly, if that’s their theory, that solely using the wrong pronoun, that that would be a First Amendment violation,” Luke Berg with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said. “This is a really gross application of Title IX sexual harassment charges. Sexual harassment covers really egregious stuff, not using the so-called wrong pronoun.”
The attorney also said the charges have no standing under the school district’s own policy.
“Eighth-graders shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of investigation or this type of reputational harm for something that on its face clearly doesn’t violate Title IX in sexual harassment. Their own policy says that if on the face of the complaint the conduct, even if proven, wouldn’t amount to sexual harassment it should be immediately dismissed, and that’s what should have happened here and it didn’t,” Berg said.
The student at the center of this has not been publicly identified.
A Kiel middle school parent said it’s about more than pronouns. The parent explained their child has come home from school crying, as they’ve been the target of homophobic slurs and harassment.
“The KASD prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX, and will continue to support ALL students regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity), or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability (”Protected Classes”) in any of its student programs and activities; this is consistent with school board policy. We do not comment on any student matters,” said Brad Ebert, Kiel Superintendent.
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