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Charges Filed Against GHS Threat Suspect

The 17-year-old boy suspected of writing a threat in a Greendale High School bathroom is charged with a misdemeanor, and is expected to make his initial appearance in court this week.

Sympathy over years of bullying led to a lesser charge being filed against the student suspected of making the homecoming week bomb threat at Greendale High School.

The criminal complaint filed late Friday afternoon outlines the way the suspect was reportedly treated by his classmates, including years of teasing and being voted onto homecoming court as a prank. 

Knowing how Nicholas S. Olson, 17, was treated, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office — with the backing of Greendale School District administrators — charged him with a single misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. If convicted, he faces up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail.

Had he been charged with the felony count of making a bomb scare, he could have faced up to $10,000 in fines and up to 1-1/2 years in prison, plus two years on community supervision. Olson is due to make his initial appearance in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly after Greendale Patch reported a student had been arrested for making the threat, readers began commenting that the boy — who had not been named publicly — had been bullied by his classmates. While many hoped there would be consequences for whoever was responsible, others were sympathetic to what a victim of bullying faces.

A few suggested the family of the bullying victim contact an attorney about suing the district, saying more should have been done by administrators to protect the student from his classmates.

According to the complaint:

At 2:33 p.m. Sept. 20, someone from the Greendale High School administration called police to say a bomb threat had been discovered in a boys bathroom of the school. 

When police arrived, Principal Steven Lodes took an officer to the bathroom, where they found the message "3 DAYS TILL BOOM JK OR AM I?" written in blue ink on the wall of a bathroom stall. This was the Thursday of homecoming week, with the dance planned for Saturday night.

No activities scheduled that day were canceled, but administrators asked the Milwaukee County Bomb Squad to sweep the campus on Sept. 21 before students arrived. A second sweep was conducted Sept. 24, before classes began the next week. No explosive devices were found either time.

As police investigated, an anonymous tip led them to Nicholas Olson. Police searched his locker and found notebooks and writings he appeared to have made, along with blue pens similar to the type used in the bathroom threat. The handwriting officers found in the locker appeared to closely match the writing on the wall.

Police spoke to Olson on Sept. 25, and say he admitted to writing the threat in the bathroom, because "he was upset and angry." Police also said "he did not have a plan to use any explosive device and further that he did not want to hurt anyone."

The officer knows Olson has been bullied, "teased and taunted by his classmates for many years," according to the criminal complaint, and that he had "just been voted onto the homecoming court as a 'joke' by other students." The officer said something similar happened during last school year's prom. 

Police said Olson reported being teased all his life, and the investigating officer said he is "aware that the defendant is ostracized by the other students and appears very depressed due to the situation." 

Police said the administration "had a deal of sympathy for the plight of this student." A district representative told the assistant district attorney who prepared the complaint that they agreed "the defendant should not be charged with a felony but rather a misdemeanor due to to the extenuating circumstances which may have led to his conduct."

Mike October 02, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Alright, I'm sorry, I definitely feel for the kid and agree with the lesser charges being persued in light of the situation. But to sit here and demand that staff be fired over this is absolutely ridiculous. Especially when someone brought up parents, the response was "kids hide things from parents". YOU DON'T THINK KIDS HIDE THINGS FROM TEACHERS?! Why is everything constantly blamed on teachers and parents get a free pass? As a GHS alum I am very proud of the school system that I was brough up in. Was there bullying? Were some kids picked on? Was it very "clique-y"? Yes. Absolutely. But there are better ways to deal with things than making bomb threats. If bullying was a valid excuse for making a bomb threat, I guarantee you that every single school across the nation would have one on a daily basis. I'm not going to sit here and judge the entire GHS staff (especially since I still stay in somewhat contact with some of them and know how amazing of teachers they are) because according to some of you who think it's only on the teachers and not on the parents to have stopped this, they didn't do enough. Now as for how they've handled the situation after, I'm shocked that there hasn't been something brough up in class or as an assembly to the entire school. At the same time I can see how they'd not want to make this a bigger deal than it already is in case this child wants to come back to GHS. However now that the cat's essentially out of the bag i think it's time to address it.
Bren October 02, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I'm glad you agree that this issue shouldn't be swept under the rug, as it appears to have been many times over the past years. Comments here suggest that administration has been well aware of the problem, yet it continues. I was concerned about how quickly the new superintendent was hired, and more concerned now that he hasn't made a statement or addressed students/staff. Who made the decision to hire him? The same folks who sit on their backsides while kids are being bullied and harassed? When is the next school board meeting?
Sassybug October 02, 2012 at 02:50 PM
The School Board meets the first and third Monday of each month.
Mike October 02, 2012 at 04:05 PM
@Bren you completely missed the beginning part of my post apparently. Who says that anyone sat on their backside and just let this kid be bullied? Yes it says in this article that the officer is aware of the bullying "according to the criminal complaint". It says nowhere that school staff were even aware of the situation prior to the bomb threat other than the fake prom nomination WHICH THEY STOPPED. Additonally, before you even say "well they should've paid more attention and known what was going on" reference my earlier comments about parents. A parent has on average two or three kids to look after? A school teacher has a hundred different students combined in all of their classes? You're totally right, let's just all get out the pitch forks and torches and go get those evil teachers, principal, and super.
Bren October 02, 2012 at 04:57 PM
No need to be defensive, Mike. People are asking valid questions about how such a culture could have become so seemingly entrenched in the district. In loco parentis. While on school grounds, teachers and administrators are responsible for the safety of students and for maintaining a safe and secure learning environment. If a teacher or administrator witnesses inappropriate behavior it is their responsibility to intervene. If that is not physically possible, they must report the incident. Sunshine needs to be thrown on this issue, based on other comments here. If incidents are being swept under the rug, who is holding the broom? Let's focus on that instead of frivolous comments about pitchforks.
Sassybug October 02, 2012 at 05:05 PM
The time for placing blame is long since past. It's time to come up with a solution - one that involves parents, community members, administrators, teachers, school board, everyone. Threats of legal action only cause the district to shut down behind their lawyers. This is a community problem, it should be a community effort to solve it. I'm not talking about this incident, I'm talking about a change in the culture of our schools and our community. We need a collaborative group effort to make that change - without blame, finger pointing, or threats of legal action.
Gene October 02, 2012 at 05:33 PM
As of today the family has taken the "withdraw" option rather than take the risk at an expulsion hearing which would most likley not go in their favor. That does not mean that the issue is over by no means. Any and all media attention this issue can get the more likely we can help another kid and force some stronger actions against the unacceptable behavior that is going on in our schools.
Marge October 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM
The student withdrawing is a sad view of the state of the school district. I agree wtih Bren. District administrator hired in not time flat. No comment from him. I think he is way over his head and doesn't know what to do. The expulsion could be held in public and the school board and their district administrator who is unheard from would have to be accounted for. They wouldn't dare vote to expell if we had a crowd of parents and students there to make them answer to the people who elect them.
Gene October 02, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Pretty sure at least one of these laws was broken by school officials. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/118/46 118.46  Policy on bullying 118.46(1)(a)1. 1. A definition of bullying 118.46(1)(a)2. 2. A prohibition on bullying 118.46(1)(a)3. 3. A procedure for reporting bullying that allows reports to be made confidentially 118.46(1)(a)5. 5. A procedure for investigating reports of bullying. The procedure shall identify the school district employee in each school who is responsible for conducting the investigation and require that the parent or guardian of each pupil involved in a bullying incident be notified 118.46(1)(a)6. 6. A requirement that school district officials and employees report incidents of bullying and identify the persons to whom the reports must be made. 118.46(2) (2) By August 15, 2010, each school board shall adopt a policy prohibiting bullying by pupils. The school board may adopt the model policy under sub. (1) (a). The school board shall provide a copy of the policy to any person who requests it. Annually, the school board shall distribute the policy to all pupils enrolled in the school district and to their parents or guardians.
doug toader October 02, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Great comment and research to: HELP OUR KIDS. Once again the Educrats who know better than us parents failed in their jobs. Will anyone be held accountable? No. Greendale is not the great place to raise your kids as it once was. Guidance counselors sleeping on the job again, oh well, yawn.
Bren October 02, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Sassybug, as the district is content to lob charges at a student, it should serve as an example and be accountable for its own actions. Since years of complaints have failed to effect change, sterner methods should not be off the table, in my opinion.
Live and Let Live October 03, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I think the whole concept of Homecoming & Prom Court is archaic. The "Court" is nothing but a popularity contest. Time & time again, only the elite, most popular students are elected onto it. In fact, when I attended GHS (100 years ago), only the popular group even bothered to vote. The other 98% of the students felt it was just a lost cause because their circle of friends, or students they admired outside their "circle", came from a smaller group than the group that consisted of "The Popular Kids". Therefore, any votes they would cast would be outnumbered by the "In Crowd". Even today, when I see pictures of the most recent Court, I can't help but wonder if I'm really looking at students who are admired by the majority of their classmates. I suspect, if ALL the students in the class were interviewed, it would become clear that many members of the Court are not well liked overall. Please let me stress: I am sure there are students on the Court that deserve to be there! I am not trying to cast a negative light on ALL of them. I just think that it is a good bet that quite a few of them are not universally admired by their classmates. I do realize that the Court is a tradition that most people do not want to lose. Unfortunately though, I can't help but think that this tradition contributes to the fact that one group of students has the majority of power over the rest.
Mike October 03, 2012 at 01:03 AM
who...says...there's any sweeping under the rug?! you're pulling stuff out of nowhere to make a bigger story about needing to find broom holders than there even is here. lol
Mike October 03, 2012 at 01:05 AM
@bren you realize the school district has zero say in charges being filed or not right? lmao..."Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office — with the backing of Greendale School District administrators — charged him with a single misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct". The Milwaukee County District Attorney is filing the charges and the school district backed them in filing a lesser charge.
Mike October 03, 2012 at 01:09 AM
hey doug how about parents sleeping on the job??! once again since when was it a teachers responsibility to be the know alls when it came to children and their behaviors? if the kid hid the feelings he was feeling and the bullying from his parents how do you know he didn't hide them from the teachers as well? idk about you but when i was in school if teachers asked about anything we just lied and said it was nothing and handled things ourselves pretty much.
Double B October 03, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Mike-- not sure when you were in high school but a lot of bullying occurs in the classrooms where teachers are present... So is it that they are all deaf and hear none of it? Think that its okay and the student should suffer, or that they just don't want to get involved...? How are the parents suppose to know that a student is being bullied should they put a tracking device on them? Just curious to hear your input.
Mike October 03, 2012 at 03:27 AM
i was in high school within the last decade. i've been in high schools much more recently. so you're saying that while a teacher is talking to the students they just start making fun of other kids? the ONE time i can think of where a kid was picked on blatently in front of a teacher was when it thundered out and he ran and cried under a table. and our teacher told us all to shut up "in a few more words and politically correctly) and took him to the guidance office or somewhere else so he could get some help. and there are signs for parents to look out for that their child is struggling. removal from activities that they typically enjoy, trying to get out of school, loss of appetite or sleep, etc. you can't tell me he was just fine at home and telling his parents at the dinner table about how great of a day he just had at school and then went to school the next day and wrote a bomb threat in the bathroom. which brings up another point how the parents could know that something was going on at school. TALKING TO YOUR CHILD! i know it's a recently foreign concept...along with this newly found idea that teachers are supposed to raise our children...but i'm willling to bet a few conversations with him could've brought to light at least some, if not all, of the issues that caused him to take the actions that he did. someone earlier said "this was his way of crying for help". what i'm saying is that it's not just on the staff like so many here want to place the blame.
doug toader October 03, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Mike everyone knew this kid was bullied. My son told me who it was right away. I have met with the guidance counselors many times. I should have just stayed at work at talked to the wall for the same results. It's a mill and they just push the kids through. The most unprofessional bunch of robots running a school. Every time I was there it looked like that main counselor lady slept in her clothes! Total Fail.
John Tarrett October 03, 2012 at 12:17 PM
The Mil Journal Sentinel has a news report it in about Greendale this morning.
Mike October 03, 2012 at 12:47 PM
thanks for letting us know about it John...for anyone that would like to read about how the school did approach Nick about his court nomination, how they are overhauling the election process, and all the preventative steps that are already in place (and how they're looking into how they can help with more and to prevent another incident) please feel free to give it a read. http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/greendale-high-bomb-threat-prompts-discussion-of-bullying-l7738nt-172393891.html
wiscoleeds October 03, 2012 at 01:40 PM
There is so much finger pointing going on here that I'm surprised no one has lost an eye yet. Surely this is all the fault of George Bush.
Bren October 03, 2012 at 03:42 PM
So sweep it all under the rug until it happens again?
Bren October 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
It's a nice, sanitary, message-controlling "puff piece." A discussion should have taken place with Greendale parents and students first and foremost, not running damage control at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I consider this maneuver yet another symptom of an issue in the school district.
Scott B October 03, 2012 at 05:50 PM
We have a bullying problem at Greendale but its all over the city. If were looking for someone to blame, look at whats going on in this state and country.To stop bullying it starts at home. I have a son in his first year at GMS and trying to steer him in the right direction, and its not easy.If the schools aren't helping, then i'm really worried. I guess its us as parents who have to work even harder if we don't get help from the them.
Scott B October 03, 2012 at 06:24 PM
As a former student GHS back in the day (82-85) things have obviously changed.When i was in school we had our freshman hazing, practical jokes and fights that happened but were soon settled and for the most part students moved on.No Threats I read everyones comments and much finger pointing and alot of blaming of this person and that person,i have to wonder how these kids got this way,maybe from watching a society go from coming together after 911 to all the hate we see now.Having to be pretty and popular and dress a certain way and be in this group and that group must be hard on the kids. No one can be themselves.Now im not leaning one way or another, but it will come across as one-sided. These past 4 years have gone down hill for this state and country in general. The dislike that is exuded from people about how this country and state should be run is unbelievable.Both hate each other and it runs all the way down to the kids who look at this and probably assume this is the norm.Lets cause chaos and disturb this and that,and then act surprised that a kid threatens a school with a bomb.I'm definitely not saying its right but come on, these kids have been subjected to so much hate from t.v to politics to what is written in the papers to right here at the patch.I look at the patch and read how people dislike each other on certain topics and tell me that doesn't trickle down to the kids at home.Some comments here are almost a form of bullying.Stopping bullying starts at home!
RG WI October 06, 2012 at 10:39 PM
WOW. None of you know Nick, his parents, his grandparents, or his sibling(s) or his family history. You don't know what his parents have or have not done to try to stop the bullying, so quit with the his parents should have talked to him. NONE of you know what has or hasn't been said between him & his parents!! I am not defending his decision to write that, because it's not right. But I can guarantee had he not been bullied, that NEVER would have happened! It's damn sad the bullying he endured for YEARS pushed him to that!!!
Frieda October 07, 2012 at 05:59 AM
Counselors aren't paid to care. They are paid to advise students on how to get into college. Anything more challenging than that is beyond their skill levels. Just sayin', as a parent of several non-average kids: no real options for kids whose talents are not well-served by the college-bound curriculum. "Advising" consisted of trite sayings, nothing to indicate that the advisor actually knew anything about the kids. These kids are doing well in the vocational / trades after high school, but were marginalized as "not performing" when trapped in high school. Maybe a lawsuit would be a good thing: Wake up Greendale!
Carol October 07, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Here it is Oct. 7th and this is still being talked about. Why not stop and move on. This poor kid is going to have a rougher time now no matter where he goes cause everyone knows his name & how he looks thanks to TV. I still say blame the parents! I know someone who works in another district and she said when parents are contacted about something their child did, they either don't come to talk about it or say "I don't think my child would do that!". It's sad that this is going on not only in Greendale, but every school in Milwaukee, both parochial & public. Kid are going to say mean things, but they have to be ignored. Our teachers and administrators aren't responsible for everything. Please give this subject about Nick a rest!
RG WI October 09, 2012 at 04:05 PM
^^Yeah, you want to blame the parents when you have no idea if they've tried to help him. Again, clueless comment. Ignore the things kids do to other kids? Either you are one of the bullies or a parent of one. You should be ashamed! But I doubt you have the decency to be! This is a sad situation that never should have happened but you clearly don't care about the whole situation.
Gene November 12, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Agree with @ RG WI, the previous poster to him really doesnt give a crap about the issue, must be a school board member. She is rigt about one thing though, the PARENTS need to get their bullys under control and teach them how to be a good person. As mentioned somewhere else on this subject, "it starts at the top".

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