Parents concerned after Whitman Middle School staff member has 'odd' conversation with students about sex

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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Officials at Whitman Middle School are investigating an incident which parents say left some students feeling rattled and scared.

In an email to parents, Whitman administrators said a staff member, "initiated an inappropriate conversation with a group of students about sex." The email said the conversation was not part of the approved curriculum about the topic.

Officials said in the email as soon as they were made aware of the situation, the staff member was escorted off campus and sent home for the day.

Parents told CBS 58 the incident happened during a lunch period.

"Around 1:30 in the afternoon my child started texting me, asking me to come pick [them] up from school," a parent of a Whitman student who witnessed the incident said in a phone interview. The parent did not want to be identified. "And [they] told me something really weird had happened at school, [they] didn't want to talk about it."

"Apparently the teacher was saying some very like odd things," the parent continued. "Advising them to not have sex with them with anyone that they don't trust."

That statement from the staff member was confirmed by the school in the email sent to parents.

Parents are also concerned whether the school was aware of the staff member's history of mental health.

According to court records, the staff member -- who CBS 58 is not identifying -- was charged in two incidents in the past two years that both began over concerns over their mental health.

In 2020, the staff member was charged with resisting an officer causing bodily harm after officers responded to a welfare check. Court records say the, "defendant was found guilty of actually committing the crime(s) charged, but was also found not to be legally responsible under Wis. Stats. 971.165 for committing the crime(s) because of the defendant's mental condition."

In 2021, the staff member was charged with disorderly conduct, dangerous use of a weapon. They ultimately reached a plea agreement. That incident was also initiated over concerns of their mental health.

The parent who spoke with CBS 58 said they were sensitive to the possibility the staff member was experiencing a mental health crisis. But they also have concerns over it and if the staff member should have been removed from settings involving students earlier.

"At the same time you know, this is a very scary situation for the kids this is a lot for them," the parent said.

Whitman Middle School told parents in the email the staff member is on administrative leave and not allowed to return to campus pending the result of the investigation.

The following statement from the Wauwatosa School District was sent to CBS 58.

"At this time, our Human Resources Department is investigating the inappropriate conversation had by a Whitman Middle School staff member on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. While the investigation is pending, the staff member in question is on administrative leave and will not have contact with students.

The Department of Human Resources has submitted initial information to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and will submit all investigatory materials upon the conclusion of its investigation.

The Wauwatosa Police Department was advised of the incident and, based on information available at this time, will not be pursuing criminal charges.

As of today’s date, all employees in the Wauwatosa School District who are required to hold a license do have the appropriate licensure. Additionally, all employees are required to complete a background check prior to finalization of employment.

When addressing personnel issues, it’s important that the District comply with applicable laws and School Board policies, including, for example, laws and policies that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of arrest record or disability.

The Wauwatosa School District’s number one priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We understand that the community has many unanswered questions, and we regret that we are unable to legally share more information at this time regarding the ongoing investigation."

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