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Threatening message on bathroom wall at John Muir raises discipline questions

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A threatening message written in black marker on a John Muir Middle School bathroom wall is raising questions about how the district is responding to threatening or bullying behavior.

“Olivia is a dumbass snitch who needs to be killed,” the message reads, followed by a string of vulgarities. The message was discovered on Monday.

The child’s father, Eric Heuser, tells Wausau Pilot and Review that his daughter, the subject of the message, has been enduring months of harassment at the hands of bullies at school.

School officials are investigating this threatening message discovered Monday at John Muir Middle School in Wausau. Photo: Facebook

In a prepared statement, Wausau School District Communications Coordinator Amy Arlen said that first and foremost, student safety is a top priority for the district.

“The School Board has a comprehensive policy around the prohibition of bullying and hazing,” Arlen wrote. “Situations are first handled at the lowest level, which is typically at the school, and each situation is thoroughly reviewed and investigated. Throughout the review and investigation process, students are supported by counselors, social workers, and/or other mental health professionals, as all sides of the situation are examined. This support includes both the students who are the harassed/bullied and harasser/bully and continues throughout the continuum of consequences. Depending upon the circumstances of the situation, potential consequences fall on the continuum from mediation and parent contact up to the potential for pre-expulsion/expulsion. In addition, law enforcement is utilized proactively in any scenario that warrants their involvement.”

But state Department of Instruction data show expulsion rates in the district fall below state levels, and are virtually nonexistent for even some of the most egregious offenses. In the most recent data available from the 2016 to 2016 school year, dangerous weapons in the Wausau School District were reported at a rate of 2.8 per 1,000 students, more than twice the state average of 1.1. Yet while the number of expulsions for such offenses statewide sits at 4.8 percent, the rate in Wausau is zero.

There is similar DPI data for drugs and assaults. Drug-related events in Wausau schools were at 3.5 per 1,000 students, with the statewide average at 2.6. Statewide 7.8 percent of those events resulted in expulsion. In Wausau, the rate was zero. As for assaults, Wausau reported 9.6 events per 1,000 students, above the 8-per-1,000 student statewide average. The expulsion rate statewide was 1.5 percent, but no students were expelled in Wausau.

In fact, just one Wausau student was expelled in 2015-2016, according to the DPI.

During his reelection campaign, Wausau School Board Member Pat McKee specifically named bullying and harassment as one of his top three priorities in his next term, calling for “zero tolerance” policies.

“Our current policies in this area are too weak and/or poorly enforced,” McKee said, in a March interview with Wausau Pilot and Review. “Immediate action is necessary before more harm is done to students who are simply trying to engage in a productive day at school.”

Results of a Wausau School District parent survey released in May show middle school parents are concerned about whether bullying is being properly addressed. According to the survey, 74 percent of John Muir parents are satisfied with the school’s handling of bullying. At Horace Mann, the outlook is significantly lower, with just 67 percent of parents reporting satisfaction with school bullying and harassment policies.

Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven said the department is looking into the threat. Officers are looking at hallway cams and trying to determine the source of the message, Bliven said.

“We are very involved in this specific situation,” Bliven said.

34 Comments

  1. Something is wrong when 30% of the parents don’t like the District response to bullying. Is the District more concerned about protecting the future schooling of the perpetrators or helping to protect the victims.

  2. Wow??? The threat has now been written on a bathroom wall and on the internet by this publication… I think the situation was just made worse…
    “WAUSAU — A threatening message written in black marker on a John Muir Middle School bathroom wall is raising questions about how the district is responding to threatening or bullying behavior.

    “Olivia is a dumbass snitch who needs to be killed,” the message reads, followed by a string of vulgarities. The message was discovered on Monday.

    The child’s father, Eric Heuser, tells Wausau Pilot and Review that his daughter, the subject of the message, has been enduring months of harassment at the hands of bullies at school.”
    For threats and bullying, the principle suspects and victims must be identified, questioned and actions taken… this doesn’t mean that explosion or suspension is the only answer, but the safety of the victims must be protected and you can’t deal with a bully if they are thrown out of school, but they need be help and including the police in the matter is one of the options…

    I have had to deal with at risk students as a teachers and it is not something to be ignored, sweep under the rug, suspension of the bully or transferring them or the victim… it is a difficult and multi-levied issue… not to be ignored… it is not something to be dealt with in an opinion pole… it is extremely personal for the victim and their family…

    • I would like to let you know that in this case, the girl’s father reached out to us specifically and we made sure they were comfortable with posting the story and the photo prior to publication. The photo has also been widely shared on social media.

      • Shereen, as you know, there are always two sides to every story. All I’m saying is that I find it pretty hard to believe that a kid gets targeted like this for absolutely no reason. Unfortunately, I’d bet there aren’t any John Muir faculty or staff who would go on the record to tell/explain the entire story, because we all know the backlash that would most likely take place on social media. I’m certainly not implying that anyone is guilty or innocent for that matter, but again, this is only one side of what I’d imagine is a pretty complicated situation. Food for thought.

  3. Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven said the department is looking into the threat. Officers are looking at hallway cams and trying to determine the source of the message, Bliven said.

    “We are very involved in this specific situation,” Bliven said.

    This is a good action!

  4. call1911….that is a horrible comment to make on a lot of levels. I am not saying you are horrible, but you comment is clear and obvious victim blame. Your comment is also about a child. So, no matter what, a child should not have those things said about them. And to blame the victim is so amazingly bad. And to couch it in some language about not knowing the whole story….exactly what would make it acceptable for someone to say that about another person?

    (and yes, I know I said I was done, I consider victim bashing to be extraordinary circumstances, because it is simply bullying in sheeps clothing)

    • Sorry Dino, but I’m not blaming anyone. I’m simply saying there are always two sides to every story. We’ve heard one side, that’s it. I’m not saying anything directly to this or any child. I’m not “blaming” any victim either. Have YOU ever been blamed or accused of doing something that you either flat out didn’t do, or was extremely blown out of proportion? I have. I also personally know people who have wrongfully been accused of something and their careers were completely destroyed. They weren’t arrested, there were no charges filed and all it took was an accusation. This isn’t hearsay, it’s fact. Again, we’ve heard one side of this story. With all due respect, do NOT accuse me of something I’m not doing. Save it for someone else, please. You can now ride away on your white horse.

      • I agree with Call, there are many sides to stories and agendas in these school issues… many people have rights to be considered…

  5. What could a child have done to deserve this? What is the other side of the story? You are doing it. You are saying EXACTLY that this child might have done something to deserve being bullied. That is EXACTLY what you are doing.

    I know lots of people who have been accused of whatever, and in no case did it allow for them to bully their accuser in such a way. There is no reason at all for this.

    You are exactly saying that this child might have done something to deserve this. Because that is the other side of the story.

    • Could you possibly be more of a hypocrite? Seriously. For someone who “champions” hearing both/all sides of a story or argument, you’re falling flat on your face. Please refrain from attempting to accuse me of something I’m not doing or condoning. So I’m the bully now? Grow the hell up. Trust me, if I thought a child or adult “deserved” anything, I’D FREAKING SAY IT. I do NOT need you trying to decipher any comment(s) I make. For the last time, there are ALWAYS two sides to every story and the last time I checked, people aren’t convicted of anything without knowing the full story. I’m done with this topic and I’m done with your sanctimonious BS.

  6. So, its okay to write these things on a wall about a child, this is okay?

    What do you think would make it okay to do this?

  7. As a life long teacher, I have seen things… and had stories told with the children creating problems for themselves and parents backing them to the hilt…. school dynamics can and are misleading… a complete investigation is warranted… no child should be bullied, suggestions of violence against a child should not allowed, but and it is a factor that is time tested… some students always seem to be having problems and that is something that must be addressed, questions need to be addressed… is this young person safe, is she part and parcel of the situation, what are the home dynamics, who do the parents comport themselves, what has the school already done or attempted, is this a special needs student…

    • First let’s all agree that children should not be threatened or bullied at school.
      Next be realistic and understand that not all kids are honest and not all parents are reasonable… first hand experience… and after a through evaluation… the truth becomes clear!!!
      Consider this story! https://nypost.com/2018/06/08/parents-attack-elementary-school-principal-at-family-fun-day/
      or
      http://www.readingeagle.com/article/20180608/AP/306089137/1009
      We need to provide for the safety of the children, teachers, and staff at school… because some parents get violent and make threats…

      • And you have absolutely NO EVIDENCE that this child, in this case, was lying. Yet, like 1911, you say we need to hear both sides of the story. Which is the same tired old male bullshit that enables us to blame victims. You are literally not believe this child because other people somewhere else lied. That is horrible.

        You are blaming the victim for being a victim, and you are crouching it in some nonsense about other people lying somewhere else.

        That is horrible.

    • Dino, while most of us will agree that this is probably a righteous threat, however there have been instances where the “victim” has been the one who wrote the message. I am sure that you remember the incident at the U. S. Air Force Academy where someone wrote some racial slurs on the door of a black cadet. As it turned out after an investigation it was the cadet who made the charge of racism that actually wrote the slurs. So you can’t be to careful when investigating threats.

      • And I would simply respond, with a few things…1. Are you the investigator? 2. If you are not, what does your example have to do with a child at John Muir?

        Please, be careful in answering number 2. Because the predictive answer is that “We have to be sure that this is rightous threat before we attack someone else.” Sure, of course. But, no where in the article does it imply the identity of the writer of said threat, nor does that come up in the thread discussion afterward.

        What does come up is a lot of men (I am assuming) talking about how you need to be sure. You have two sides to every story. But, the identity and motivation of the attacker is not up for discussion, because no one knows it.

        What we know from the story, and Shereens comment is that a young woman named Olivia was the target of this form of graffiti bullying, and the family of Olivia spoke to Shereen. But instead of supporting the victim of the attack, because we do not know it to be anything else, the commenters in this thread sought ways to judge, diminish, disregard, explain away, and revictimize the young person who was bullied in the first place. It, in my opinion, is a gross display of arrogance to question someone who claims to be attacked and somehow think there is a reason for her to be attacked.

        I posted Juge Persky’s name as a point of reference, for he is the fellow who gave Brock Turner under a year for sexually attacking and violating a drunken woman. One in a long line of men who justify the victimization of women in various states, as the victim is the responsible party.

        I stand with Olivia.

  8. Dino, as a former police officer, I guess you could say at one time I was an investigator. Thst probably gives me a leg up on you when comes to approaching the situation for a practical perspective instead of an emotional one.

  9. Sure, lets keep up the obfuscation. But you are not a police investigator, and you have not shown or admitted any direct information pertaining to the humans in this story. Instead, what you have done is obfuscate. And beyond that, you have sought to find a way to blame the victim, who is named Olivia.

    You are not investigating. You are commenting on a website, like I am. We have the same facts. You simply think it is worthwhile to say that there is another side to the bullying of a child, that somehow there is a way when writing these things about another person (any person) on a wall in public is acceptable.

    You somehow think it is okay for this child to receive this treatment, and you appear to be actively looking for a justification. Instead of simply saying “It is wrong” and moving on. Amazing.

  10. Given your position I can only assume that you were bullied at some point in your life, and possibly still are. This has led to your emotional reaction to this story. That is understandable and I feel bad for you.

    No one who has commented on this story has endorsed bullying. How you have drawn that conclusion is troubling. A few of us have only suggested thst the matter needsto be investigated to find out all the facts. But you find that wrong. Sad.

    • There are more than two sides to most stories… in my teaching career… I have seen many stories change when examined and often the victim had created some of the problems… but no one deserves to be threatened, bullied, lied about or getting parents to support a story that has many other issues involved… protect the child and investigate and protect everyones rights in the process…

  11. The other side is who did it and why. Think about it. Until we find out why a person would do such a heinous act, we cannot begin to alter their behavior so they don’t do it again.

  12. So the two of you believe, that there is a justification to write that on the wall about another human being? that is the essence of this. I do not believe it is okay to write these things about another person, much less a child.

    Yet, John Enk, Stan, and Call1911 apparently do think there is a reason that it would be appripriate to say these things to a child.

    Come on, justify what a young girl could do that would make it okay to write these things, because obviously you believe in them. You clearly do.

    So, tell a thing that Olivia could have done to warrant these things being written? Just one thing.

    • Dude, I’ve effin’ HAD IT with you. STOP accusing me of saying something I DID NOT say and/or type. Read through my posts and use some basic reading and comprehension skills. No where will you see that I blamed anyone for anything…..PERIOD. Stop hyperventilating for one freaking second and settle the hell down. If you’re able to do that, which I seriously doubt, you’ll see that your Napoleon complex of being judge and jury is not only stupid, but quite annoying.

      • Those are all true things call1911. Sorry, your right. I hate bullying, and obviously find no justification for it. It seems to me like members of this thread are justfying bullying by hiding behind the whole “We do not know the whole story” bit. Which of course is fine. But, like I said, what part of the whole story would make it okay to do this.

        But, I have in fact said the same thing over and over again. Become the shitty version of myself. Sorry about that.

        In regards to Napoleon, I think I am good height for an Italian American who had a dad who was 5 foot 4.

        But, your right. Thanks man. I lost the thread there.

    • “but no one deserves to be threatened, bullied, lied about” period!
      Investigations must also be complete!
      Got it!

  13. So are students at the school or faculty and staff allowed to talk or is there a gag order? Let the police and school complete the investigation and hope the truth comes out!

  14. I have spent more than 30 years in education… I know how schools operate, how administrations try to control the situation, So I take umbrage with the claim that I over simplify, push buttons and conflate… If you have a question ask, but don’t denigrate my life as a teacher and my work as a police officer, that is unworthy Dino.

  15. Have you met this girl? Do you have anything other than the facts contained in this story? Or the Channel 9 story?

    This is what you do John. It is the reason that this is the last thread/story on this website that I will comment on. Because of your behavior here.

    Unless I am wrong, you have no information other than the information I have. Yet, somehow you want to make a claim that there is another side to this story. All the while not addressing the question, “What could a child do to deserve this sort of public bullying?”

    You offered no response, other than we must have the other side of the story. So, what is the other side of the story that would allow you to say that it is okay to do this to a child? Seriously John, what could a child have done, that would make it okay to have these things written about him or her?

    As far as denigrating you, you wrote “So are students at the school or faculty and staff allowed to talk or is there a gag order? Let the police and school complete the investigation and hope the truth comes out!” Which is simply hyperbolic and intentionally so. You were baiting me. And you were doing it because I asked a direct question which you are clearly not willing to answer. The school is not under a gag order, and there is free speech.

    You earned my denigration. I asked you direct questions. You chose to not answer them.

    • Have you met this girl? No!
      But I taught32 years of high school dealing with special needs students and at risk students and that gives me insight into what happens in schools.

      Do you have anything other than the facts contained in this story?
      Not at liberty to say!

      Or the Channel 9 story?

      This is what you do John? I have done many different jobs and have many experiences in dealing with people and I know what I know and you can’t accept that!

      Because of your behavior here? I will never have to apologize for knowing things and speaking the truth…

      Unless I am wrong… bingo!

      Yet, somehow you want to make a claim that there is another side to this story.

      “What could a child do to deserve this sort of public bullying?”
      The answer again is “but no one deserves to be threatened, bullied, lied about” period!
      Investigations must also be complete!”

      we must have the other side of the story is a response!

      When we get all the answer to the questions, then we will know the motive!
      As far as denigrating you, you wrote “So are students at the school or faculty and staff allowed to talk or is there a gag order? Let the police and school complete the investigation and hope the truth comes out!”

      The school is not under a gag order… and you know this how? and there is free speech, yep and there is also confidentiality and gag orders… in the real world. Due process and the rights of others are in play?

      You asked you direct questions. I answered them! You chose to not accept the answers I gave! Just because you think I am being evasive doesn’t mean you are right… I have plainly and openly responded Dino. Don’t over think my responses and don’t under think my concerns…

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