SCMS assault prompts cellphone ban

Principal says it’s necessary for school safety
By: 
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Cellphones are no longer allowed to be used at Shawano Community Middle School following an incident where one student assaulting another was captured on a cellphone and posted on Instagram.

A letter sent out to parents by principal William Traber on May 18 indicated that the cellphone ban was necessary for the safety of students and staff.

“In order to keep students safe and secure, I have decided to not allow cellphones during any part of the school day,” Traber wrote. “Cellphones are to remain in student lockers. If students are seen using or carrying their cellphones, they will be confiscated and will only be released to parents/guardians. The student could also be referred for a school rule violation through the Shawano Police Department following Level 3 in our disciplinary point scale in our student handbook.”

Traber wrote that he informed all students about the changes. Further, he said if parents or guardians need to get ahold of their child to talk, to call the school office, and the students can use the space to talk.

The letter, which was posted to Shawano, Let’s Talk About It on Facebook, generated some unhappy responses from parents and community members.

“God forbid there would be a shooting,” Sondra Guetschow wrote. “Then how do kids call for help?”

“So without a phone, the kid isn’t going to assault another kid?” Scott Heling wrote. “Give me a break.”

“Cellphones should be on every child in that school,” Nichole Heagle wrote, adding, “obviously, it’s the only way to get the truth.”

The letter also got responses from parents outside the district. Sarah Castellion commented that Bonduel schools don’t have the fighting and assaults that Shawano does.

“This kid obviously knows he can do what he wants with no repercussion,” Castellion wrote.

On the same day as Traber’s letter, Superintendent Kurt Krizan sent out a letter to parents providing further details on what’s been discovered since the one video was found on Instagram. Krizan wrote that he learned on May 17 about the account showing multiple fight videos.

“Of the five videos posted on this site, four were from Shawano Community Middle School and one appears to have taken place in the community,” Krizan wrote. “Each of these four incidents were previously investigated by Shawano School District administration in collaboration with the Shawano Police Department, and students were disciplined for their actions. We are not able to share specifics on the discipline of the students in this (or any other) incident.”

Krizan’s letter also encouraged students and parents to alert “any trusted adult” in the school system if there are any incidents of bullying.

“We became aware of this social media account through the actions of a parent emailing me,” Krizan wrote. “I believe we are partners in educating children in our school system. I applaud the parent for emailing me.”

Krizan concluded the letter with assurances that safety is the school district’s top priority.

“We will take any perceived or real threat seriously,” Krizan wrote.

Traber also indicated in his letter that he wants parents to be involved in the school.

“Earlier this year, I held two State of the Building meetings and a parent resource fair where I hoped to gather input from parents on how they would like to be involved in initiatives at SCMS,” Traber wrote without specifying what the initiatives were, adding that he would be looking for volunteers to participate in the initiatives.


lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com