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“There’s anxiety:” West Bend students suspended over protest that turned ugly

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WEST BEND (WITI) -- Scores of students are suspended -- and expulsions could follow. Some may be referred to juvenile authorities. All of this comes after a massive protest turned ugly Thursday at West Bend High School.

School administrators at West Bend High School may tell you the cell phone video of the chaotic scene at the school only tells part of the story. While it started as a peaceful discussion about new rules at the school such as new types of hall passes, it became a free-for-all. More than a dozen police got involved in stopping the crowds.

West Bend police say 75 kids were suspended. Some may be given citations and referred to juvenile officials.

What you don't see, according to the superintendent -- more than 2,000 other students who did not take part in the craziness.

"All the kids who weren't involved are apologizing. There's anxiety, what was this all about," said Ted Neitzke, Superintendent of the West Bend School District.

Neitzke talked to the students Friday morning. It was kind of a debrief -- and then it was time to learn.

"Every administrator in the district was there in the morning. We had increased police presence. But what we didn't want to do is, we didn't want to create and intimidating environment -- which is why we had all the elementary school principals there," said Neitzke.

The superintendent says he's proud of most of the students and his staff.

"At the end of the day, we have a few hundred adults in that building. Whether they worked in the classrooms, the lunchroom, the halls, the clinic. Every adult stepped up yesterday,"said Neitzke.

Suspensions will run three days -- then those kids will come back.

So what did administrators learn from this incident?  If they want to talk to students about a controversial issue, they'll do it in small groups -- not a huge gathering.

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  • kristen hal

    What a joke! We want young people to stand up for what they believe in and vote for there rights but when the school changes some supposed rules (they won’t say what the rules are???) they have to invite police and the entire district to kick off new rules??? If it was that bad why didn’t they invite the parents to the school for the new rules? Its funny that they cover up there BS by saying the other students were all calm, I’m sure they were if they were in other parts of the building. These particular 75 students were not a disturbance until the environment they were in was not conductive to learning and teaching. Don’t treat them like animals and then get mad when they lash out! These are the future adults in west bend not future criminals………

    • John

      Actually Kristen, those 75 or so students who received detentions were the ones who couldn’t even tell you the details of the new “Bathroom Pass” policies, these students were in large part the students who already receive suspensions and are quick to contend. They just gravitated towards the protest in the cafeteria yesterday to see what the gathering was about and upon hearing that they didn’t have to attend first hour by going to the protest they naturally chose skipping class for the exciting protest. After some questions were answered those +75 plus students began ridiculous chants that resulted in uproar and then standing on tables and running through the halls screaming, pounding on my doors (including my history classroom door). So no, in order to “kick off the new rules” they didn’t need police. The police came as a necessity due to the kids who couldn’t control themselves and found it entertaining to turn on sinks and take down posters while screaming like maniacs!

      And saying the administration treated the “kids like animals” is far beyond the truth. Our principal stated clearly there were no injuries or violent measures taken. I wish more serious measures were taken on the kids involved in the after-meeting chaos.

  • Mayleigh

    My daughter is a sophomore at an MPS charter school. When she heard the news report about this incident, she was astounded. It amazed her that any student would ve that upset about a requirement to carry a wood hall pass. Her exact words were, “Those West Bend students are lucky. We aren’t even allowed to leave class to use the restroom, unless there’s a medical excuse or an emergency.” I guess its all about perspective. Her school, which has to deal with the reputation/stereotype of being in MPS, has never had any major incidents like this. The students willingly make the sacrifices of more rules, uniforms, etc. in order to obtain educatiin from a school ranked in the top 10 in the state. I guess someone needs to explain this type of value system to those 75 students.

  • richard cranium

    spoiled little punk kids. you’re going to get eaten alive when your sorry little @sses enter the real world.
    time for west bend to import some bad apples from bradley tech to keep these clueless white trash babies in line.

  • Interested bystander

    This is not news reporting.
    How can I have an opinion about what happened if you don’t tell readers/viewers what the changes were that the students were protesting? They could have been in the right … and the fact that you didn’t report what their beef with administrators was makes me think they probably were. (smh)

  • Mayleigh

    A radio report indicated that the students were protesting the required use of a wooden hall pass in place of paper passes. Apparently the school is experiencing a high amount of stydent traffic in the hallways during class time. The wooden pass is large enough to see from a distance so that staff can quickly identify who is authorized to be out of class versus who is not.

  • Reasonless

    This is the new Obama way.
    When you hear something that you don’t like or understand, you act like a wild animal trashing everything in your path while yelling at the top of your lungs.
    These are our future Madison protestors. Misinformed little whanna be thugs that are too uneducated to ever communicate properly. Its much easier to smear your turds on the wall than to form logical words into sentences.
    I feel sorry for the majority of the student body for having to deal with these fools. I hope that the school stands firm by expelling the entire bunch involved, including placing a judgment against their sorry butts for restitution of property loss, law enforcement and administrative time, not to mention the loss of time for all of the students that were actually at school that day to learn something.

  • BB

    First things first, clarification : there are zero wooden hall passes. Where did that come from? The hall passes are laminated, bright yellow and on lanyards. Students must carry them when they leave the classroom for the bathroom or their locker, and they also have to sign in and out of their classroom on a sheet. In addition, leaving during the first five or last five minutes of class is prohibited because those are the “most important parts of classes” and are necessary in order to “set up important lesson objectives” and such. (Which is counterproductive, because oftentimes the first and last five minutes of class are spent waiting for the teacher to organize their things for the lesson or waiting for the bell to ring.) This policy has been implemented because of the many truant students who wander the halls during scheduled class times and refuse to listen to teachers when questioned, even becoming belligerent.

    In addition to the change in hall pass policy, there were other issues that the senior class was upset about, although underclassmen made up the vast majority of the 75 students. A rumor recently spread, though dispelled by Mr. Graymont, that seniors would not be participating in the “Every Fifteen Minutes” event, and it would instead be for sophomores and juniors. EFM is put on prior to junior prom, to discourage drunk driving after prom, and has been a tradition for juniors and seniors for years. It is put on every other year and this was the year for the seniors – so with the rumor that seniors would not get to attend the event, the senior class would never have experienced it. In addition, it has been recently announced that this graduating class will not get a class mural on the walls of the school – a long-lasting, important tradition – and there have been rumors that all of the existing murals will be painted over sometime in the future. All of these issues have built up upon each other, and the senior class is extremely tired of losing out on things that previous classes have had. They are also tired of being treated like children with the hall pass issue, especially when they are expected to do such things as decide what we want to do with the rest of their lives.

    Many of the upperclassmen that attended the input session on Thursday morning were expecting it to be an honest discussion about the new policies, in which their voices would be heard. Instead, those who wanted to skip class and those who were too immature to keep their mouths shut ended up ruining things for everyone, looking even more like children and embarrassing WBHS. The administration needs to deal with these 75 students harshly and crack down on the students wandering the halls instead of punishing the 98% of students who are in class and making them feel as if they were in elementary school again.

    As a WBHS senior, I can attest to the truthfulness of my information on the policies and the reasons for the upset nature of my graduating class. All I want from administration is an honest review of why students are wandering the halls and what they can do to stop that, instead of belittling the students who do attend class.

    How about that police officer actually comes out of his office once in a while and catches the students wandering the halls? Just a thought.

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