Are Falls Schools Getting More Violent?

A recent fight involving six individuals — two of whom weren't students at the high school — has left some parents concerned that violence is growing in Falls schools.

Last week, six individuals — two of whom were not students — were arrested after a fight broke out at Menomonee Falls High School just past noon in a gym at the school. The incident has left some parents worried about the prevalence of violence in the schools, and the safety of their children.

“I have a daughter who will be a freshman next year at the high school and I am terrified to send her,” wrote Falls resident Julie Beck on the Menomonee Falls Patch Facebook page. “The frequency and level of fights that I have heard about over the past few months seems to be growing with students calling in other people — adults in many cases — to come to the high school to fight.”

On Thursday, two of the six individuals involved in the incident were Milwaukee residents who were called to the fight by a juvenile relative in the center of the altercation, according to a police report. One of the men was a 19-year-old graduate of MFHS, who was let into the school by students involved in the altercation. A 22-year-old friend drove him.

The juveniles involved received disorderly conduct citations, and the non-students received citations for disorderly conduct and unauthorized presence on school grounds.

The fight started after one student made fun of a female student’s “big butt," according to the report.

“There will be significant consequences for the individuals involved who were students and non-students,” said Falls Superintendent Patricia Greco. “Regarding the students, the extreme consequence is expulsion.”

Greco didn’t state what the specific consequences would be for the students, but administrators are reviewing the case. If expulsion were deemed a rightful punishment, the case would go before a board comprised of school administrators and School Board members. They would make the final determination.

For parents, they’d like to see misbehavior punished more strictly. Some believe troublemakers are given too many chances in the school system.

“I worry far more about my daughter. Kids just seem to be getting more violent and that scares me. The school needs to get tougher on these kids — zero tolerance for violence of any kind,” wrote Falls resident Beth Yohnk on Patch's Facebook page.

Misbehavior on the rise?

According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, nothing in the data indicates an upward trend in the prevalence of violence in Falls schools. Rather, each year presents its own unique circumstances, and the total number of incidents involving suspensions or expulsions fluctuates from year to year. 

Incidents That Led to Suspension or Expulsion

Weapon or Drug Related  2010-2011 2009-2010 2008-2009 2007-2008 Menomonee Falls High School  10 15 18 5 North Middle School 6 4 17 14 Not Weapon or Drug Related 
2010-2011 2009-2010 2008-2009 2007-2008 Menomonee Falls High School   76 110 34 72 North Middle School  232 143 179 218  Source: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction *2011-12 school year not available

Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, a total of 19 students were expelled from North and MFHS combined. 

Although 2011-12 data is not yet available from the DPI, the Menomonee Falls Police Department tracks each time an officer is dispatched to the school. Between Jan. 2, 2012 and Jan. 22, 2013, police visited MFHS on 368 occasions, according to call logs from the department. However, a majority of those calls are routine patrols from officers, community policing, parking and parking complaints. 

Menomonee Falls Patch reviewed those call logs and tallied the total instances where a call was specifically labeled a behavioral issue. The tallies don't include instances where a specific behavioral issue wasn't identified in the initial call log information. Instances like "specific event" or "miscellaneous services" don't indicate the specific incident. 

Police Dispatches to MFHS             Fight   5   Juvenile Trouble   8   Bomb Threat   2   Criminal Damage to Property   1   Disorderly Conduct   6 Assault/Battery   1 Drug Law Violation   7 Theft   12 Suicide Threat   1 Source: MFPD Call Logs

Menomonee Falls Patch has requested more data from the district regarding the 2011-12 suspension and expulsion totals. Additionally, Patch requested data on the proportion of students involved in violent behavior who are not residents. Public Information Officer Mitchell Maersch said the district would fulfill the request later this week. 

Staying Proactive  

Greco said one of the reasons parents may perceive an uptick in violent behavior is the district's proactive approach to informing parents when incidents occur at the school.

“We want to make sure parents are aware of incidences and updates that would involve children in the school they may attend,” Greco said. “The communication has been a focus within the strategic plan, (North Principal) Lynn (Grimm) and Menomonee Falls High School Principal) Corey (Golla) have been working hard to ensure that parents are up to date with information.”

Greco said an increase in communication may shape the perception that violence is occurring more often. Greco said the district is beginning to see a reduction in behavioral problems — namely at North Middle School. The district has implemented Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at the school, which is a disciplinary program established by the U.S. Department of Education.

Staff at North and the elementary schools are being trained on the PBIS program. The purpose is to help prevent behavior issues by clearly setting a social culture and the support system at the school for students. Greco said they have seen improvement at North since PBIS implementation.

“We will continue to see evidence that results are showing positive change,” Greco said.

Patch has also requested data that shows the PBIS program is shifting behavior in a positive direction. That will also be supplied later this week. 

Greco also said the district and the MFPD have a strong partnership to address and prevent issues in the schools.

“Within school environments, it’s about relationships with family, school, and the community, and ensuring that we’re providing a learning environment for every child,” Greco said. “We’ve got a really strong leadership and a partnership with the police department. However, we can’t guarantee an individual child won’t use poor judgment.” 

jerry mislang January 25, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Mary Mulligan January 25, 2013 at 01:26 PM
I have graduates from the Falls and a current sophomore. The staff and leaders are responsive, and my kids have had a great experience. Those who share information as if any of these incidents are wide spread are inaccurate. Honestly, I have never been more pleased with the direction our schools are heading. Communication is better, staff are responding more to my concerns, and the district leadership is strong. In any community there are individuals who make poor decisions, I have never blamed everyone for the actions of a few. There are hundreds of 220 children attending our schools. Actions of a few will never define each person; nor should they. I would never want to be judged by the actions of another when I wasn't responsible for the behavior. Our schools are great and I couldn't be more pleased with the direction of our schools.
jerry mislang January 25, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Thanks Mary for your input. A positive comment from someone who uses their real name. Hope your kids and the vast majority continue to have a great high school experience.
Jann January 25, 2013 at 04:13 PM
jerry: it's been my observation that using your real name could be dangerous. One of our past Falls presidents uses his real name and I commend him for that. However, people posting comments about driving past his home and observing what he does in his yard and someone even seemed to be so facinated by him that they walked around a festival watching his every move. Lets face it our world is full of crazy people and I wouldn't want that happening to me. And I sure as heck don't want my kids using their real names either. Also, by JSO I take it you a referring to JS online. There are very few real names on there.
Mark Muller January 25, 2013 at 05:04 PM
I do benchmarking and statistical analysis for a living. My children attend MF High and I have one at North. MF Schools have never performed better. They are in the top 10% of performing schools in the state, have a more diverse student population than those schools around us, and the staff cares about the progress of the kids and who they are as people. Anyone can pull out one fact or incident from any organization. We have a lot to be proud of and as a taxpayer whose home value is tied to the quality of the schools, I am glad we have the schools and the staff we do.
John Wilson January 25, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Jann - I understand your point, and I also understand that women are probably placed in a particularily vulnerable position, as they are generally the selected target of most abuse in our society, mainly because they lack the muscle mass, strength of males. I think we have to get beyond that, for everyone. Too many people hide behind some faux screen name to be demeaning, rude, snarky, vulgar and in some cases simply obscene, just because they know that they will not be called out publically for their words. Is that what we mean by PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY? The Patch is but one of many blogs that simply “enables” this kind of behavior, largely because of numbers. IF everyone was made to post under his or her own name, they suspect that there would be fewer people coming to their blog, and advertisement revenues would go down. IF you are afraid of using your own name, you have already been intimidated to the point where you have freely given up your right to freedom of speech, and allowed yourself to become a “victim.” Yes, there are some strange people and too many mentally disturbed people “out there” and the internet has only given them another forum; however, they have always been there… let us know who they are… the Patch certainly knows; damn, they are close friends with many of these folks!
John Wilson January 25, 2013 at 06:20 PM
jerry mislang - I agree with you. I should point out though, that the JSO, if you mean the Journal Sentinel Online, does NOT require that you use your real name. I would hope that they would, but I will not hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Furthermore, there are many “business folks”, lawyers, owners and high on the food chain type of people - the "job creators" - who frequent these blogs, and write like mean-spirited, foul mouthed juvenile delinquents. I am sure they would not want their customers, their children, even their employees to know just how warped, intolerant, and “out there” they really are…
Fallsguy January 25, 2013 at 06:33 PM
It's good to see the school district informing parents. Now that you are aware, and are upset with certain issues, I would recommend that you go to the school board meetings or the district office and voice your concerns. With this school board, they will continue to do what they want unless there is continuous discussion of your issues. Problem with interdistrict choice, Falls school district gets funding for the students they accept. So it will be a hard road to try to change this.
Jann January 25, 2013 at 06:48 PM
John: Just because I don't want to invite trouble to my front door does not mean I don't have a right to my online opinion. I wonder what the Menomonee Falls Police Dept would think about everyone using their real names? Seems like they might end up with more problems on their hands because there are indeed creepy people out there. John Wilson is a common name, there's no way to prove that that's actually your name though.
John Wilson January 25, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Nuitari – Given the history of your posts, you have never been known for tolerance, acute critical analysis or even thoughtful consideration of anyone’s opinion other than your own. Therefore, your history on this blog fairly accurately reflects YOU. I am areligious, not anti-religious, and I would encourage you to consult a dictionary to accurately discern the difference. I am the most Liberal person that I know on the planet. What that means is I do a huge amount of reading, questioning and critical analysis of what I read and hear; I sincerely believe that the growth of humanity is dependent upon freeing oneself from traditions that have no meaning today, nationalism, superstition and the belief in deities… rationality and human reason will free man and help him achieve his true potential. Getting 50,000 religious people together in a football stadium in Texas to pray for rain during a sustained drought, may make you feel better, however, it will not create rain. MAN created GODS and that only holds man subservient, captive and a “victim” to his own creation, long outdated… No, it is the tension created between rationality, superstition, and the consistent attempts by religions to impose your BELIEFS on everyone that causes uncertainty, fear, and oppression and ultimately impedes human development. We have tried your way, since the time humanity was worshipping fire… it does not work.
Michael Casey January 25, 2013 at 07:33 PM
I don't know why there even needs to be a comments section. Rarely, if ever, do the usual anonymous posts from either side of the political fence carry any intellectual heft or at the very least, an attempt at constructive debate. We get it, snarky tea party guy, and hot head progressive, blah blah blah. If you mattered at all your name would be in the story and not in the comments section.
jerry mislang January 25, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Well said Mr. Casey. Once again it's the few bad apples who spoil the barrel. I think by now most folks just laugh at those two or three and don't really consider their opinions.
jerry mislang January 25, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Jann, I agree that the world is full of crazy people and I respect your opinion. If I had kids that still lived at home, I might be worried. I haven't noticed any strange behavior, just personal attacks and name calling from the usaul fake ID's in the comment section of good stories, which I guess makes them feel better about themselves. Ho-hum, my mom always said just consider the source, and she was right, the phonies don't reallycount.
John Wilson January 25, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Jann - I understand your position, I really do. I just do not happen to agree that people should be able to hide behind their faux screen names. We all make many risk/benefit analyses daily. IF you are comfortable with your decision, that is all that matters. “John Wilson is a common name, there's no way to prove that that's actually your name though.” Yes there is, you can email me at j_wils@outlook.com; you can contact any of the editors at the Patch and ask them if the man posting under the name John Wilson on the Patch really is John Wilson, and I give them my full permission to confirm that. You are correct though, John Wilson is a very common name; I found that out the hard way when, many years ago, I went to get a mortgage for my first home in Wisconsin. It only took me 5-months to prove that I was not the John Wilson who had purchased 3 Cadillac’s and has never made a payment on any of them!
Jann January 25, 2013 at 09:53 PM
John: It sounds like you've given me enough info about your name that you are telling the truth. But what I'm saying is when a person signs up to post comments they have to give a valid e-mail address, but couldn't they put in a fake name? There was a time when most of the people in my house used my e-mail address until they got old enough for their own, so any number of names could be linked to an address. jerry, the weird comments I was talking about were not on the Patch site but another local publication.
John Wilson January 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Jann – Yes, they could put in a fake name, with a valid email address. That could happen, I suspect, just like when most of the people in your house used your email –name@.com. However, then all email coming in to that email address would come in using that –name@.com and who would want that? Patch does allow you to have multiple screen names for posting; however, each screen name has to be associated with a different email account. That could be problematic in this day and age when your ISP allows you to have up to 10 separate accounts under ONE “Primary account”, plus the many FREE email accounts under gmail.com. yahoo.com, etc. Additionally, you could use a work email account if you wanted to. So, that could potentially be a problem. The Patch, should something really troublesome come up, could trace your email address through your IP Address or have law enforcement trace it through your ISP. All of that information is basically free to get at will. There are software programs available on the Internet that will do that for you too, such as: www.icontact.com/ www.emailfinder.com/ If you really want to find out how vulnerable you are – people can locate you through your email address and get your real name and address, just Google: Tracing and email address to a person. Then sit down and think about all the ramifications of that! Your point is well taken… hope I have not scared you! That's a lot to go through, just to post on the Patch!
Change4Better January 25, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Mary, you're "pleased with the direction our schools are heading?" Are you also pleased that locked doors have been opened to allow non-students and adults to enter on multiple occassions? Are you pleased to know that there are altercations going on around your own student? Not me! I am tired of my son coming home to tell me about another fight and how he has come up with an escape plan for every single classroom he is in if something should happen. I also have another son who graduated several years ago who experienced the same problems. Nothing has changed, especially the leadership. The fact that people are talking about this is a serious issue. I don't know how anyone would say they are pleased after seeing those statistics!!
John Wilson January 25, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Craig - Thank you, both for your response and the suggestion... we all get out of hand at times and I do not take much of anything personally. The email that I posted is a special "secured" Microsoft account [https] additionally; I have a home email server between that, with DoD level security, so I am not worried about intrusions. Now if people want to find me… that is easy, as there is no privacy anymore, I do have (2) Glock 17’s, a CCW permit and I know how to use guns. Finally, I know that I am only going to go around my life cycle ONCE, and I am not going to do that hiding in a bunker… life is too short for all of us to not enjoy it as fully as we possibly can. BE WELL...
Mark Muller January 26, 2013 at 01:26 AM
There have been incidents at Hamilton High School, Brookfield, Germantown, and Brookfield as well. I am pleased because our administrators are working hard and our staff members are responsive. The school is and has been responsive so yes I am pleased. My children know there will always be people in any work or school setting that use poor judgment, but to assume that will change the strengths of our high school is in error. I am looking at the statistics and our schools are strong to include the high school. Very few in the area are performing as well as ours. So you can create hysteria with your comments, but it isn't based in facts.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) January 26, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Mark Muller says " you can create hysteria with your comments, but it isn't based in facts." You seemed to have paged down right past Carl's nice charts showing that our schools are not exactly as perfect as you seem to think they are solely on the extrapolation of your kids' success. Poor statistician practices on your part I'd say.
Jimmah January 26, 2013 at 02:26 AM
@Mark Muller. Mark if you really are a stats guy for a living, you broke rule number one: You make a huge claim with nothing to back it. I want to see specific stats on the level of violent incidents. Who cares about top 10 in the state? I'd like to know how they do compared to surrounding schools like Brookfield, G-town and Sussex. Top 10% in the state includes all the up north jerk water schools and failed inner city schools. With that in mind, top 10% is really irrelevant. Compared to our peer SE WI suburban schools, MF is well behind on scores. Start giving Sussex and Shorewood a run for the money....then you can brag.
Michael Casey January 27, 2013 at 04:02 AM
Mr. Uurslf - I've no doubt that is your real name. Kudos to your parents on having an amazing sense of humor.
Sandra D. January 27, 2013 at 08:26 PM
I thought this article was about the high school and the kids. Why do the comments have to always turn into into a fight about things that have nothing to do with the article you are commenting on? I just think it is ridiculous that there can't be a civil discussion about a community issue without everybody yelling at each other about off-topic things.
Hakkimnrobi January 28, 2013 at 05:11 PM
This Jerry Mislang must be one of the yes men for the existing cabal. Puppet !
Michael Casey January 28, 2013 at 07:35 PM
You're absolutely right, Tina, and would that it were true. Unfortunately, the comments section of any online news source is not now nor will it ever be the place for honest, constructive discussion. That ship has sailed. My advice is to take the information provided in the story by the hard working Patch journalists and discuss with your real friends, teachers, police and local representatives. That's where change can and will happen. For example, I have children in MFHS and middle school. I receive constant updates on any and all situations that occur in the schools - I commend them for being pro-active. If I have a concern I'll contact them and they will respond - seems to me the system is working as best as it can. Yes, as there has been in high schools for as long as I can remember, there are fights, and threats. Ultimately, the solution lies with parents. Knowing what your child is doing, who he or she is hanging around with, emailing teachers who are more than happy to keep you informed as to their progress (or lack of it). Checking cell phones and computers. I can't expect teachers or school officials or the superintendent to solve every problem.
jerry mislang January 28, 2013 at 08:44 PM
I couldn't agree more, Michael Casey, especially the part about the Patch Journalists. If someone REALLY has a question or concern, I sggest you go to group the story is about for more info, don't expect the Patch Journalists to do the work for you.
jerry mislang January 28, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Mark Muller, I agree that th staff and schools are something to be proud of. I always chuckle when I hear "when I went to school". Sorry, times change but one thing remains the same, there are still bad apples in every environment.
jerry mislang January 28, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Mary Mulligan, love your comment about 220 kids. I've been lucky enough to meet many of them, good kids who are going out of their way to better themselves.
TOM February 07, 2013 at 10:20 PM
All of this foolishness started up right after the supreme court took away the kick in the rear at home and at scool you are either going to run the kids or they run you! We also never had all these alphabetized illnesses that require drug treatment to get them spaced out what a worthless lot are tax dollars are paying for creating a bunch of drug heads lets bring back disipline the kids think we don'tcare about them
John Wilson February 08, 2013 at 02:27 AM
TOM - You sound like someone raised by wolves, and blessed with all the knowledge of growth and development of children as a box of rocks. I sincerely hope you do not have any children of their own to raise...


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