KIEL, Wis. (NBC 26) — This week, a Title IX harassment investigation and two bomb threats have thrown the small city of Kiel into the international spotlight.
The families of three eighth-grade boys claim their Kiel Area School District students are under a sexual harassment investigation in connection with incorrect pronouns to refer to a student.
"Nobody knows the whole story and we should allow the staff to continue to do their work, rather than attacking them for trying to do what they believe the law requires of them," Cary Johannes said.
A total of two Kiel parents opted to speak at the public comment portion of the district's school board meeting on Wednesday. Johannes was one of them.
"Now, our students, staff and community are suffering because of this negative media coverage," she said.
Police say schools were evacuated on Monday due to a bomb threat, and a second threat came Tuesday.
According to a letter sent to Kiel families, schools were closed Wednesday to allow staff to prepare for virtual learning. That will begin on Thursday and continue Friday.
"I do so appreciate the district for their commitment to following the appropriate procedures in dealing with matters related to students' safety, bullying and harassment," Kiel parent Sally Skrepenski said at the virtual meeting.
Skrepenski supports the way the district has handled the Title IX investigation.
"Everyone involved in this situation has a vested interest in the school and community," she said. "They, I hope, all want to do what is right for the district and all students."
The families of the three middle school boys demand the school district drop the investigation.
This story began to unfold last week, when NBC 26 first heard from a parent of one of the boys who was being investigated. NBC 26 talked with that parent again on Wednesday.
"I just want this dropped," Rose Rabidoux said. "I want them to come out and say clearly 'mispronouncing is not sexual harassment, not Title IX sexual harassment, we are dropping these charges, clearing his record so we can move on with our lives. ... They need to change what they're doing and let kids be kids, and not worry about this grownup stuff."