School District of Rhinelander concludes sexting investigation
School District of Rhinelander parents received a pre-recorded voicemail message this morning, announcing that together with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies, it has concluded an investigation into student ‘sexting’ in the district. A letter to parents is posted on the school’s web page. Here is a portion of that letter:
The School District of Rhinelander, in cooperation with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, has concluded an investigation involving numerous students who were sharing inappropriate photos via personal cell phones; an activity referred to as “sexting”. The District worked in conjunction with law enforcement to determine whether or not this type of activity occurred during the school day and while students were on school property. The investigation concluded that the vast majority of taking, sharing, and viewing of inappropriate photos happened outside of the school environment and not on school property.
Although Wisconsin law does consider incidents such as this as felony offenses, and it does not have disciplinary alternatives for such offense, criminal charges were not filed against the students involved. Rather, all students that used social media inappropriately at school were given a one day suspension, and all students involved are subject to athletic code violations and will serve the appropriate game suspensions. Since October 16, 2014, Oneida County Sheriff’s Office investigators have spoken with numerous students that were involved with the recent sexting issue, as well as their involvement with activities such as this in the past. It appears from the contact investigators have had with these students that this is an issue in school districts throughout Wisconsin and numerous other states. The investigators also met with District Attorney Michael Schiek to discuss possible charges filed against students involved in such incidents, and the investigation led them to an article that was recently published as to why kids are sexting. You will find a link to this article at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/. The article makes it very clear that this is not just an Oneida County issue, but an issue affecting communities throughout the United States. It also provides information pertaining to alternative disciplinary action that other states have implemented fort hose teens that create or share inappropriate photos.
Rather than imposing criminal charges upon those students involved in the incident in our school district, which could be detrimental to the future of the students and, in turn, could be harmful to our community as these students will not be allowed to enter certain occupations, the District and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office are partnering to take an educational focus on this issue for our community. As part of the educational focus into this activity, the School District of Rhinelander, Oneida County’s Sheriff’s Office, Oneida County Social Services Department, Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and Nativity of Our Lord Schools, have partnered to bring Eric Szatkowski, Special Agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice/Division of Criminal Investigation, to the Rhinelander Community. Mr. Szatkowski’s dynamic presentations on Internet and cell phone exploitation of children have been seen by more than a quarter-of-a million people in Wisconsin and the U.S. His audiences include parents, middle school (follow this link to read the entire letter: http://www.rhinelander.k12.wi.us/parents/socialmediainvestigation.cfm)