A stormy week at Nicolet High School left District Administrator Rick Monroe frustrated with what he said is an “us against them” perspective of students and some community members toward school officials.
"People had the attitude that it's us against them, and that's what really hurt me, kept me up at night," Monroe said Friday in addressing that and other issues from the last week. "How can people believe that sentiment that the administration is anything but supportive of our kids? This shows that they have no clue the quality of people we have on staff."
Homecoming Week was first jostled by a group of seniors who decided to circumvent the planned dress-up day with their own theme of "LAX (Lacrosse) Bros and Preppy Hoes.” That was followed by vandalism, cancellation of the annual homecoming pep rally and the arrest of a former school board member for disorderly conduct at a gathering in the school parking lot following the football game.
Dress-up day: Least of the problems
Many students believed the impromptu dress-up event led to the suspension of a student; Monroe said only one student was suspended during homecoming and that suspension had nothing to do with the dress-up day.
"It wasn't because the way kids were dressed and it wasn't one person taking the fall for other kids," he said.
Monroe said while this was heavily covered in the media and talked about among community members, it was in his mind the smallest issue of the entire week. He said kids were only out of class about five minutes. No one was suspended, given detention, or asked to go home.
"It wasn't a major issue to me, but somehow the administration was 'heavy handed' and 'cracking down,'" Monroe said. "Give me a break, we enforce the dress code every day. Maybe we had more kids than normal, that's for sure, but still, it was five minutes."
Vandalism, threats led to pep rally cancellation
On Sept. 21, Nicolet administration announced over the loudspeaker that the homecoming pep rally would be canceled. A letter to parents said, in part, there was “fear of a disruption.”
Monroe said Friday the rally was cancelled not because of a "punitive" reaction to the alternative dress-up day, but because of his fear for students’ safety. Vandalism, including violent graffiti written in a bathroom stall, contributed to the decision.
"As much as I wanted to go ahead with the pep rally, based on the climate and what was in the bathroom stall, it still just added to the mood that made me want to err on the cautious side and cancel the pep rally," he said.
Glendale Police released reports regarding the homecoming week incidents on Friday:
- On Sept. 20, at 10:29 a.m., Brian Reiels, facility director at Nicolet, discovered the football field press box had been vandalized. Someone had spray-painted vulgarity and a homosexual slur on the sign. Nicolet's custodial staff immediately cleaned the sign and the cost of damage is estimated at $100.
- The boys bathroom had also been vandalized the same day. In the lower, F-Wing boy's bathroom, someone had written on the toilet paper dispenser, "Kill people, burn (expletive), (expletive) school." The graffiti was immediately cleaned by the custodial staff.
- On Sept. 21, a mannequin was discovered hanging outside the principal’s office. It was hanging by the neck, attached by a yellow rope to the rooftop. The mannequin belongs to swim coach Dwight Davis and is usually kept in the pool area. While students and parents told Patch previously that the mannequin had the principal’s name on it, the police report shows no record of any name attached to or written on the mannequin. Monroe said Friday as well it did not have Principal Greg DePue's name on it.
- A Mag One radio, valued at $289, was stolen from Davis' office.
- A Mac Book computer, valued at $1,360, was thrown into the pool.
- Also by the pool, someone had painted "(Expletive) Nicolet" on the wall. Other expletives were painted the same day on the Nicolet High School front entrance sign and the front window of the school.
Hopeful for a substitute rally
Many students told Patch they were disappointed to not have a homecoming pep rally — freshmen because it was their first and seniors because it was their last. Monroe said he's sensitive to students' want to celebrate and to the dance team's time and effort practicing a dance that was never performed.
"I'm very sensitive to the dance team, I love the Nicolet dance team," he said. "I really respect them so much because they are so well disciplined and I'm proud to see them perform. They always represent Nicolet very classy."
He said he will talk with the rest of the administration soon to present the possibility of a makeup rally at a different time.
Us vs. Them
Monroe said the biggest issue with the entire week, for him, was the conjecture that Nicolet was "heavy-handed" in disciplining students.
"The heavy-handedness, this has been mind boggling to me," Monroe said. "The attitude or perception that Nicolet administration has been heavy handed is totally unjustified."
He reaffirmed that the dress-code incident was only a 5-minute issue, and the pep rally was only cancelled because of the vulgar and threatening vandalism — not because of the dress up day.
The North Shore Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for any tips or information that lead to an arrest in the vandalism cases at Nicolet and Monroe said that's given him some solace.
"I will feel much better when the person(s) responsible for this are caught and arrested for this," he said. "Until then, I'm not blaming anybody. I don't know who's responsible or what motivations they had, I won't even speculate."
If you have any information, please contact the North Shore Crime Stoppers at 414-962-4258 or the Glendale Police Department at 414-228-1753 between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.