"It`s Menomonee Falls. You wouldn`t think this was happening here. I think this is a one-time incident. It`s not going to tarnish our school district.” -Becky Hager-Kachelek via Fox 6.
I was laughing before I finished reading the quote. I composed myself long enough to read it to my wife so she could laugh, too.
This wasn’t the typical, head-in-the sand suburban quote. It was specifically saying that an occurrence that happens about once every five years at the high school is a one-time incident. That’s more of a trend than an anomaly, or maybe not everyone knows about the trends at the high school.
Before I go any further, let me establish two things. My contract was not renewed by the district and I don’t respect any of the administrators. I haven’t much more love for the teachers’ union that did not even ask me how things were going or if I wanted a refund for their poor services. So you can go ahead and assume I’m making this stuff up, but I’m not. You could also assume I was some kind of busy-body and knew all the juicy gossip, but I wasn’t. Not at all. So there’s probably more if that’s the kind of thing you want. You could probably use the open records law to gain access to emails about these situations. While you’re at it, you could also find out why they laid me off, but that’s a totally different story, since I wasn’t even accused of any wrongdoing. A few of the other teachers and students over the years were accused of misdeeds, so let’s have some fun.
For me, the stories began the first semester as a new hire in the district. I learned that a co-worker had had a torrid affair that led to someone quitting. A real Fatal Attraction kind of thing, I was told. The reason I knew was because I was there to overhear the obligatory warning to new female hires by some of the old guard. Separately, my wife was also attending college with a woman who had married her middle school teacher from Menomonee Falls. Honestly, that kind of thing probably happens a lot in small towns, but the two stories together just made me wonder about the district a bit.
A couple of years later, my job got more interesting when a teacher was nabbed while steaming up a car with a student who was just a bit over 18. It was still a big deal: an upset wife and embarrassed school district, but nothing illegal. Some folks said more had happened earlier on, but I think everyone wanted the story to disappear quickly. My connection to it was that one of my students wrote the episode (without my knowledge) as a short story he was going to use for my class, made copies, and distributed them around the school. Of course, I was threatened with disciplinary action for not policing my students’ thoughts when admins should have been policing certain other actions much better.
Within a year or two, Fatal Attraction teacher got caught with a different teacher after hours, but that was more just funny to most of us and lucrative to divorce attorneys. Around the same time was the whole dirty dancing debate. I don’t think anyone was pregnant or being put in a corner, but it was a big deal for a year or so for administrators to ensure students were not too close to one another at dances. Also about that time, I remember being at a union meeting, wherein the outgoing president discussed potential new candidates, and she said one man would never be president because he had “a past.” When someone asked if it was with another teacher, she said it was not a teacher, and the other participants seemed to know what she meant, though I’d never heard that story before or since, and it therefore does not count as an official encounter of the student-teacher kind--just interesting. And, I'd almost forgotten, there was some talk of a prostitution ring at one of our staff meetings--really. I can't find it online now, and maybe it was just conjecture, but there was some kind of discussion of that. I'm sure the school district keeps good records, so you can ask there.
The next story I know happened was after I’d been in the district at least five years. According to a friend who talked to the teacher about it, she had been having relations with at least one student, though I heard it was two simultaneously, which wasn't even hot if you knew this person. The worst part about that story was that I saw her the very next year in a another high school. Even others I told in my district (who knew what she’d done) were surprised by her ability to get another job, which means it must have been covered up masterfully by the district and the union.
Ironically, just a couple of years later, two or three teachers were let go because they drank alcohol during a school sports activity. They were let go immediately and did not have the same opportunity to clear their names behind closed doors as the one teaching sex ed on her own time, but the atmosphere in teaching had already changed about as much as it was going to.
The district let me go without a formal explanation in 2014. The same year, another staffer being let go also later got caught with marijuana. Apparently, students the next fall did Menomonee Falls math and figured I was set free for smoking weed. The truth is that no one was fired for sex or drugs that year. Just money.
In 2015, three more teachers were fired for reasons no one really wanted to discuss. It was the same year students had been caught sending sexy selfies to each other, so I’m sure some students made that connection to the teachers caught in the secret dragnet. However, I can assure you those teachers had nothing to do with the Menomonee Falls High School sexting. I heard it had something to do with another teacher, one who had at one point almost been fired herself for calling a group of female students wearing bras and body paint for their senior photos sluts. I never weighed in on the senior photo myself, as I figured if parents in the Falls were fine with certain behaviors, then they’re fine with them.
Just before Meomonee Falls made it into the news, I learned that someone I respected in the district had been cheating on his wife for some time, and the explanation I was given was that it was a common occurrence in my former district. This led me (as all guys would do) to wonder who might have been fair game for me, had I ever been a less morally-grounded employee. It also made me wonder if there was something in the water. Like love potion. The truth is that I spent twelve years there with nothing more than a few off-color comments at the Christmas party to show for it.
Which leads us to this year, when the news explodes all over Pat Greco’s face that there’s yet another scandal at the high school. I’m not sure why this one made it out into the public. Maybe because the alleged assaulter April Novak is better looking than the last seductress. Maybe because someone else knew what happened last time and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again. Honestly, I was surprised and dismayed it had all happened on a couch, since I was forced to throw away the couch from my classroom by the fire marshall. Wait, maybe the school needs a sex marshall: no couches, large desks, rugs, or closed doors.
Instead of calling it an isolated incident and writing it off, however, I wonder if anyone else will question the school’s track record over the last fifteen years. I wonder what the data says about the district’s continuous improvement when it comes to things like old people having sex with young people, young people boldly being sexy in public to a fault, and mass layoffs that accomplish nothing. Then again, if that’s what the parents and taxpayers in Menomonee Falls want, then they have the right group of administrators, school board members, and creepy employees in place to make it happen.
I know when I worked in Menomonee Falls, the question was always centered around how we were going to best our neighboring schools in anything, and I believe they should now have their answer. Don’t worry about sports or ACT scores. You are MFHS! Be proud of what you’re good at. Like George Michael says, it's natural. And if all else fails, make fun of West Allis. Or you could pick the school up and move it into Brookfield.
Speaking of other districts, you might want to check on your own. I only worked for one school district, but maybe covering up various kinds of scandals is common in schools. Heck, maybe it’s common in all kinds of workplaces, just more of a legal and moral issue in schools. Since I work from home right now, I just can't say for sure, but I really can't imagine many places quite as entertaining as the School District of Menomonee Falls. If you have some examples that best mine, please leave a comment.
MFHS: Go Falls Deep!
If you want to read more about being a teacher and working in Menomonee Falls, WI, then please check out this book on Amazon.