KAUKAUNA - Kaukauna police talked Friday afternoon about their investigation into an alleged bullying incident at an area middle school.
Worldwide attention has focused on Kaukauna's River View Middle School after parent Matthew Bent posted a photo on Facebook with a message that his son had been bullied. The photo went viral; it has been "shared," or forwarded, more than 400,000 times since it was posted on Tuesday.
Bent claims neither school officials nor the police department are doing enough to help his son.
Friday afternoon, Kaukauna Police Chief John Manion said he has reached out to Bent several times, but Bent has yet to return his calls.
Manion claims the alleged bullying incident was actually two students who agreed to wrestle during gym class.
Manion also addressed concerns about the community jumping to conclusions about the investigation.
The alleged bullying incident happened during a gym class on Monday.
"The gym class entailed a group of students that were testing out on a gymnastics unit," said Manion.
Both authorities and Matthew Bent agree on that detail. However, the stories change from there. Bent told FOX 11 Wednesday his son's version of what happened.
"Two kids took my shoes and threw them up in the basketball hoop and then threw them back at me and the third kid came up and offered me a hand after he got hit with a shoe and offered to help him up and picked him up and put him over his shoulders and slammed him to the ground," said Bent.
Police Chief John Manion says both the alleged victim and the alleged bully agreed to a wrestling match.
"They wrestled and a move was done on the young man and he was taken to the ground kind of hard and his breath was knocked out of him," said Manion.
Manion says the department interviewed the boys, witnesses and the teacher. The department determined:
"At no time was there any indication of intimidation or harassment, assaultive behavior or any intent to commit a criminal act," said Manion.
The Kaukauna School District also posted a letter on its Facebook page, which it mailed to parents Thursday. In it, Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter stated: "I need to be clear; the investigation of this matter was well established and underway prior to the Facebook post."
Manion also addressed his concern for the safety of his department, school officials and students. Manion and Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter said they have received hundreds of emails and phone calls. Some include threats of violence. Manion said the threats were directed at the two men, their families and others.
"It's really hypocritical I think to have this type of complaint put against us and they're doing the same type of behavior," said Manion.
Manion says it's time cooler heads prevail.
"At least commit yourself to hear both sides of the story before you start to commit yourself to essentially criminal acts that you are doing," said Manion.
Manion also said he and the superintendent have discussed adding extra security for both the school and others who have been threatened, but said no decision has been made yet.
FOX 11 talked with Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter Friday. Duerwaechter says he had a conversation with Bent Friday, and that the two need to speak more.
Bent made other allegations of bullying on his Facebook page Friday.
FOX 11 has not been able to confirm those claims. And because of our commitment to accuracy and balanced coverage, we are not reporting those allegations at this is time.
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