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Resident Students Account for Most Infractions at MFHS

Internal data from the district indicates, white, male resident students represent the majority of infractions. However, the roughly 12 percent of the student body who are not residents accounted for 30 percent of suspensions this year.

A recent fight at Menomonee Falls High School that resulted in the arrest of six individuals has sparked a focused discussion on the prevalence of violence in Falls schools. 

Last week, Menomonee Falls Patch presented a preliminary look at behavior infractions in Falls schools using police call logs and suspension/expulsion data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. On Monday, Patch received additional data from Falls school district internal tracking that sheds a more light on the composition of misbehavior in the district.

When it comes to infractions in the district, one of the most common beliefs from Patch readers was that the majority of violent incidences involved non-resident students or students enrolled through the state’s Chapter 220 program.

According to the Patch Facebook page, readers posited that anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent of behavior infractions at the school involve students from homes outside of Menomonee Falls. However, internal data from the district shows that resident students account for a clear majority of the suspensions at MFHS.

“Clearly, high school students will use poor judgment,” said Superintendent Patricia Greco in an e-mail to Patch. “Behavior data is typically higher for males than females. Any statements representing discriminatory assumptions would also represent inaccurate information.”

Between 2009 and to date in 2013, 292 students have been suspended due to behavioral incidents at MFHS. Of that total, 68 percent involved resident students, and 14 percent involved students enrolled through the Chapter 220 program.  Students attending the district through the Open Enrollment program accounted for 17 percent of suspensions in that time frame.

MFHS Supensions by Student Type Total Suspensions Resident  Chapter 220  Open Enrollment  2012-Present 33  20 (61%)  10 (30%) 3 (9%) 2011-12 53 36 (68%) 9 (17%) 8 (15%) 2010-11 84 64 (76%) 4 (5%) 16 (19%) 2009-10 122 79 (65%) 19 (16%) 24 (20%) Expulsions by Student Type Total Expulsions Resident  Chapter 220 Open Enrollment 2012-Present 2 1 (50%) 1 (50%) 0 2011-12 0 0 0 0 2010-11 1 1 (100%) 0 0 2009-10 3 3 (100%) 0 0 Source: Menomonee Falls School District data 

Between 2009 and to date in 2013, six students have been expelled from MFHS. Just one student enrolled through the Chapter 220 program was expelled, and the remaining five were resident students.

“Our white male resident population represents the majority of the infractions overall,” Greco said.

Of the 1,510 students enrolled in the current school year at MFHS, there are 90 Chapter 220 students and 89 Open Enrollment students attending MFHS — each representing just under 6 percent of the school population. So while there are far more resident students being suspended, the roughly 12 percent of the student body who are not residents account for about 30 percent of the suspensions.

According to district data, roughly 11 percent of Chapter 220 students were suspended so far this year. In contrast, 1.5 percent of resident students were suspended or expelled.

For the past five years, Falls administrators have opted not to add any additional Chapter 220 seats in the district. 

Is Falls Unique?

Parents also were concerned that Falls schools were somehow more violent in comparison to other districts, and that the prevalence of violence and misbehavior has risen recently. 

“I have a daughter who will be a freshman next year at the high school and I am terrified to send her,” said Falls resident Julie Beck on the 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 HS to fight.”

Beck wasn’t alone in her concern. However, data compiled in the initial Patch investigation revealed that there isn’t an upward or downward trend when it comes to misbehavior in the district. Each year is unique in terms of the total suspensions or expulsions in Falls and districts in the region. 

“We did complete the data analysis on the suspension and expulsion comparisons.  As I indicated last week, there is no pattern of increase of behavior incidents at the high school level,” Greco said. “Actually the data at the schools indicate the behavior is getting better over the years.”

The 1999-00 school year represented the highest suspension rate in the Falls district, with 7.6 percent of students – or 80 students – receiving suspensions. However, most districts in the area report annual suspension rates between 4-5 percent of the student population – even in northern districts that don’t participate in the Chapter 220 program.

Falls’ suspension rates mimic others in the area, according to data from the Department of Public Instruction. Only in Nicolet and Mukwonago school districts did the suspension rate exceed 10 percent in a particular school year. Furthermore, data didn’t indicate a significant upward or downward trend in suspension data.

Germantown recorded the lowest suspension rate of 18 other area districts compared. Germantown and Kettle Moraine were the only districts to not suspend a single student in given school year, according to the data provided. 

Suspension Rates by District District  2010-2011 2009-2010 2008-2009 2007-2008 Menomonee Falls 3.64% (56) 5.53% (85) 3.73% (43) 4.76% (56) Arrowhead 4.08% (93) 4.76% (107) 4.48% (100) 3.85% (89) Elmbrook 4.0% (105) 4.0% (106) 3.9% (106) 4.7% (129) Germantown  1.38% (20) 0% (0) 4.1% (58) 0.57% (8) Hamilton 2.95% (41) 3.04% (41) 3.28% (42) 4.91% (62) Wauwatosa 7.23% (161) 8.54% (189) 8.26% (176) 6.71% (142) Kettle Moraine 3.51% (54) 4.72% (72) 0% (0) 3.75% (56) Oconomowoc 5.9% (85) 6.26% (89) 5.64% (80) 4.09% (61) New Berlin 2.27% (53) 1.16% (38) 4.76% (112) 3.55% (82) Pewaukee 3.16% (23) 2.24% (16) 3.36% (25) 4.41% (32) Mequon  3.91% (55) 1.46% (21) 2.95% (44) 2.86% (44) Nicolet 3.52% (39) 5.91% (70) 7.94% (95) 10.24% (129) Mukwonago  8.49% (144) 9.28% (161) 10.02% (174) 10.71% (189) Muskego-Norway 3.92% (67) 4.43% (78) 3.90% (66) 4.77% (82) Waukesha 4.31% (205) 4.92% (247) 3.34% (157) 6.19% (313) Hartford* 5.89% (88) 6.62% (100) 7.0% (113) 7.38% (123) West Bend* 5.31% (123) 5.23% (125) 4.65% (110) 4.80% (115) Cedarburg* 2.2% (20) 4.04% (36) 3.42% (32) 4.03% (38) * District not part of Chapter 220 program Source: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

“Our goal remains the same.  We have very good schools with strong teachers and leaders.  We continue to work with each child to improve their individual commitment to their futures,” Greco said. 

Hakkimnrobi January 28, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Data show as percentage resident students not as bad. Small percent of non resident is big problem.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) January 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM
So I can't use 220 kids as a scapegoat? Oh snap.
Steve ® January 28, 2013 at 11:20 PM
1,510 - 90 - 89 = 1,331 Resident students Resident Suspension Rate: 20 / 1,331 = 1.5% 220 Suspension Rate: 10 / 90 = 11.1%
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) January 29, 2013 at 12:12 AM
He done some math yall.
Tom McMahon January 29, 2013 at 12:55 AM
It looks like Steve should be writing these stories ...
Steve ® January 29, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Carl does a bang up job. Just have to put it in a context we can compare from. This math was learned at MFHS and perfected in the real world.
Carl Engelking January 29, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Steve's 11.1 percent statistic was indeed incorporated into this story.
Carl Engelking January 29, 2013 at 04:15 AM
One of the problems inherent with writing this piece as that as the author, no matter which way I choose to present the information, I will be accused of bias. Had I published the title, "Chapter 220 Students 10 Times More Likely To Be Suspended", I would be accused of racism. As I presented the title, "Resident Students Account for Most Infractions at MFHS", I'm accused of being a Chapter 220 apologist. Unfortunately, there is no medium yet in existence to relay two opposing viewpoints and perspectives simultaneously. Information is conveyed in a linear order. However, more importantly, when this article is read in its entirety, you are left with data and figures to use that support your arguments - regardless of where you stand. Before anyone read this, did you know 11.1 percent of Chapter 220 students were suspended this year? Did you know 1.5 percent of resident students were suspended? Did you know 68 percent of students suspended in the past four years were resident students? In my past article, were you aware of how many times the police visited MFHS? I know I'm far from perfect as an author. What I feel I succeeded in doing, is giving people on both sides of this issue concrete information to stand upon when they are discussing this with friends and family in the community. It's an issue that concerned readers, and I hope this article helps stimulate accurate and productive dialogue in Menomonee Falls.
Carl Engelking January 29, 2013 at 04:40 AM
FYI - in fairness I pulled information about non-resident suspension rates from deeper in the article and placed it in the subhead so it appears in the newsletter that is sent to thousands Tuesday morning.
Steve ® January 29, 2013 at 05:00 AM
It's a tough one to write Carl. I think you covered the data well and it was what others were asking for on the previous article.
Jimmah January 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM
One other factor the data doesn't show is the nature of the incident behind the suspension. I'd like to see the difference between drug suspensions and violent act suspension.
jerry mislang January 29, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Good job Carl and you're right, folks are going to label you (and others) one way or another, it's a no win situation The Falls appears to be in line with many other schools. The suspension numbers will probably never be zero, but the goal should be to get those numbers lowered every year. I wonder how many students have been suspended multiple times, which would lower the number of students getting suspended.although the percent rate would stay the same. I do have a question. Speaking of zero suspensions, I wonder how Kettle Moraine can have zero suspensions sandwiched between 54, 72 and 56 and G'town's zero comes between 20 and 58. What did they do differently those zero years?
Fred Wordell January 29, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Carl thanks for a factual, balanced piece of reporting. Hopefully you've met the fears of folks like Ms Beck with the information to allow their kids to look forward to a positive high school experience.
Di Atribe January 29, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Kudos to you, Carl, for following up on the story and presenting real facts. The numbers show what I have been hearing from area residents and students--that 220 students are extremely troublesome as compared to their demographic representation in the schools and are reprimanded in highly disproportionate numbers. The story also confirms what I have been witness to as the parent of students at Germantown High School--it is a very calm environment for the kids to learn in, and the administration is very good communicating the seriousness of not causing trouble when the students enter every new school season. But the thing I learned from the story is the absolute numbers aren't all that bad and we sometimes latch onto the occasional bad news and react like we live in Beirut. Thanks for balanced and fair coverage.
Di Atribe January 29, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Ultimately the scapegoats are in the administration. The acceptance of 220 kids is suspect in the first place, but if you're going to, it's the administrations responsibility to make sure the students, 220 and residential alike, know there is no tolerance for causing trouble. We live next door to a community--Germantown, that does it much better.
Di Atribe January 29, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I just have to post again--it's weird to read the work of a journalist who maintains impartiality. Virtually every other one I had ever read tries to insert a personal agenda. It got so bad with MJS I cancelled my subscription back in 1996--before the internet era. All we want are facts, whether they mesh with our preconceptions or not.
Carl Engelking January 29, 2013 at 04:25 PM
I appreciate all the feedback, and based on the level of curiosity, I'll dig into this story again from a different perspective. I'll see what's going on up in Germantown, and I'm also curious about repeat suspensions, and alternative forms of discipline other than suspension/expulsion the district is using at MFHS and North. Thanks for all the input, and I'll see what I can find in the next week or so.
Carl Engelking January 29, 2013 at 04:35 PM
That's something I am going to look into deeper next week or later this week Jerry. There's definitely another story coming looking at this from a frontline perspective.
Carl Engelking January 29, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Thanks Jimmah, I'll see if I can obtain that kind of data
BF January 30, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Just watched Real Milwaukee and they did not report all the facts. They said people are biased in MF thinking its the 220 kids causing the problems and its really the local kids.. they said nothing about the rest of the facts that the small group of 220 cause a lot of problems... so sad that they couldnt report the whole story.. and they even referenced this page as their source
Fallsguy January 30, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Interesting to see that some schools have higher suspension rates. Are these schools more strict on the rules or are there just more infractions? If the other schools are more strict, and we want this school to be more safe, then why are the rules not being enforced?
Heather January 31, 2013 at 03:58 AM
This is the problem: "the roughly 12 percent of the student body who are not residents account for about 30 percent of the suspensions." High school students are going to make bad decisions from time to time regardless of where they live... but when a specific subgroup is committing infractions greater than their population proportion, there is a problem.
Steve ® January 31, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Idiot one chick on there is from the Falls. This is why the local news is pointless to watch. Low informed it makes you.
jerry mislang January 31, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Obviously there is a problem, but I don't think it's fair to the 80 kids who aren't causing problems to be lumped in with the ten that are disruptive. Do what you have to to get those ten students in line, but don't take it out on the rest, that's not fair. And while your at it, go after that 12% too, even though their percenatage is lower, they need to toe the line too. Bad apples are bad apples, doesn't matter what tree they come from.

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