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Shorewood schools disabling iCloud on district technology following open record requests

The district's investigation into employee text messages that include frustrations with racial tension and microaggression has concluded.
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Posted at 10:35 AM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 11:35:03-04

SHOREWOOD, Wis. — Shorewood School District's superintendent said its investigation into employee text messages that include frustrations with racial tension and microaggression has concluded.

Interim Superintendent Dr. JoAnn Sternke said in a statement Friday the district investigated personal text messages found on a staff member's district-issued computer during the last school year.

The district received multiple open records requests for text messages between four administrators between August 2020 and May 2022.

Sternke says the three staff members were unaware their messages were being stored on district technology and presumed they were private since they were sent and received on their private devices. After review, the district found some text messages from three of the four employees contained words and phrases that were in the open records request.

The text messages, Sternke says, are not reflective of the district's values and ideals.

"We do not in any way condone use of racial and inflammatory language found in these text messages," Sternke said in a statement Friday. "As leaders and teachers, we must hold ourselves and each other to a heightened standard of excellence for communication, both in public and private. Unfortunately, the identified text messages failed to meet this expectation. As all personnel matters are confidential, no comments will be made regarding any resulting disciplinary action taken."

Sternke says the employees said they were expressing their "personal and professional frustrations about microaggressions and racial tensions" occurring in the district and other communities both locally and nationally.

"As leaders of color, they made clear that this collegial support was important as they navigated their work environment," Sternke said. "District leaders have listened to exit interview feedback offered by some of our staff of color involved, and we are working to address concerns that were raised regarding microaggressions and racial hostility."

School district leaders will continue to participate in training to increase awareness of race and equity, Sternke said. The district will also be disabling iCloud on its technology. The district is still in ongoing legal proceedings.

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