Advertisement

Kiel to hold virtual board meeting, chief thanks community

Kiel Middle School evacuated for bomb threat. May 23, 2022.
Kiel Middle School evacuated for bomb threat. May 23, 2022.(WBAY)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 11:47 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KIEL, Wis. (WBAY) - The Kiel Area School Board of Education will hold a virtual meeting Wednesday after a week of threats targeting the district over an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against 8th grade students.

The board was scheduled to hold an in-person meeting Monday, but police recommended they cancel the meeting or go virtual due to concerns over safety. They board announced it would hold a virtual meeting Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Action 2 News will have coverage.

Classes were canceled in the district Tuesday and Wednesday after the district received two bomb threats.

On May 24, at about 7:40 a.m., police received an email with a threat against Kiel Middle School referencing the Title IX investigation by the district. The threat was also sent to some members of the media and a school staff member.

Searches have turned up no devices. 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.

The board was scheduled to hold an in-person meeting Monday, but police recommended they cancel the meeting or go virtual due to concerns over 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.

On Wednesday, Kiel Police Chief Dave Funkhouser posted a message on Facebook to thank the community for coming together during a difficult time.

“THANK YOU KIEL

Time and again, when a crisis or tragedy has occurred in or involves people in our area, I have witnessed people in our community step up and help out in amazing ways. Monday was no different.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me, our officers, and staff expressing their gratitude and support during the bomb threat on Monday. We appreciate it, but it goes WAY beyond KLPD and the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office, and Calumet County Sheriff's Office who helped us with law enforcement.

The City staff (DPW, City Hall, etc.), the Kiel Fire Department, Kiel EMS, the staff at the Kiel Schools, local citizens, business owners (HUI especially), church groups, and so many more people stepped up to help each other and protect our kids.

Some things went well, and some things did not go well, but in the end, together as a community, we once again mitigated a serious situation by doing the best we could with what we had. Moving forward, we’ll work to fix what didn’t go well and reinforce what did. Overall, I am thankful to everyone who stepped up and helped out. I am truly grateful.

As I drove home Monday evening after a long and very stressful day, I passed a mom walking her dog with a baby in a baby backpack. The kid was smiling ear to ear bouncing on Mom's back as she walked along. I saw kids on their bikes riding along Fremont Street heading for the park. I saw a line of people at Dairy Queen waiting for ice cream and a group of people enjoying their ice cream at the gazebo by the river. As I crossed the bridge I saw a Dad with his kids fishing at Veteran’s Park. When I made it home I was swarmed by my kids who hugged me tight and who were glad I was home safe. I watched the sun set over the beautiful skyline and gave thanks that the day was over and that the people and kids in our city were safe. I gave thanks that I live in this city and that I call it home.

I’ve said it before…There is no measure of darkness, only the absence of light.

When darkness comes, Be The Light. It’s dark in our city right now, but each of us can be the light in our own way. Please think before you speak and before you type. Our world is dark enough. Let’s bring some light to it.

It is an honor to serve this City.”

Chief Dave

Copyright 2022 WBAY. All rights reserved.