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Scappoose School Board passes sex ed policy

Board member Lisa Maloney dissents, arguing policy places district at risk


MaloneyThe Scappoose School District Board of Directors voted 4-1 Monday, April 14, to implement a sexual education policy to align the school’s curriculum with standards and benchmarks set by the Oregon Department of Education.

The one dissenting vote came from board member Lisa Maloney, who argued the policy was too vague and asked to delay the vote.

“My concern with the potential policy is if we adopt such an open policy, we could be putting our own school district at risk,” Maloney told the Spotlight Tuesday, April 15.

Maloney drafted her own “Sample Policy Text,” outlining some of the principles she feels would be important to include. The sample policy’s key objectives are listed as providing a directive teaching method, a focus on abstinence until marriage or a life-long and monogamous relationship, with family-centered and age-appropriate curriculum.

While it was not presented to the entire school board, Maloney said she would be willing to present her text at a later meeting if board members were interested.

Other members felt the state policy was effective in covering all the district’s bases, while aligning with Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules.

“The policy we’re discussing has 24 different bullet points,” said board member Joe Lewis. “It seems to be very comprehensive. Having read through this for two months now, it seems to do the things that we would want to have done in our district, so I’m wondering what it is that’s not covered.”

Scappoose School District Superintendent Stephen Jupe said the state rules and statutes are referenced in the policy and highlighted opt-out options for students and parents who may decide to forego the sexual education curriculum.

“It would be my belief that it sort of covers all eventualities and people’s choice options,” Jupe said.

Maloney argued the state benchmarks also contain vague language, which she worried could expose the district to liability.

Maloney cited a recent federal lawsuit at Clatskanie High School wherein three former students of the school filed suit against its principal and the Clatskanie School District, claiming they violated federal educational laws by failing to address sexual harassment and bullying. The students allege they were harassed into giving other students naked photographs of themselves and then became the target of bullying, which the principal of the school — who the plaintiffs say they notified of the harassment — failed to address.

Because of what happened in Clatskanie, Maloney said she worries the “vague” policy could put the school district at risk, considering what she witnessed at a recent conference centered around the issue.

Maloney told the board Monday she attended a state-sponsored Adolescent Sexuality Conference in April where she obtained materials related to sexual education among youth.

“They have material and workshops that encourage all kinds of sexual behavior, including sexting,” Maloney said. “This conference is sponsored by the Department of Education.”Jupe

Maloney presented packets to the board titled “How to get Your Groove on... Fluid Free” and “Dry Humping Saves Lives,” arguing such material is inappropriate and could present a liability to the district.

While Maloney said such packets were likely not in Scappoose and indicated they would not be distributed to the district’s students, she noted they were provided at the event by the Cascade AIDS Project, one of the organizations on the steering committee for the conference.

Maloney said the nonprofit was “readily handing those out along with other booklets and other buttons.” She expressed displeasure with the state for putting on a conference that seemed to promote lascivious activities.

Jupe said the school district was invited to send two representatives to the conference free of charge.

“We sent our school nurse and one of our human sexuality teachers, and I do not believe they brought back any pamphlets like that or saw any,” he said. “Our nurse said she went to a session on how to talk to teens about certain things, how to council a pregnant teen. It was all about how to best help teens through that age, that stage in their lives without damaging themselves. It was good for our teacher and our nurse to go there and see that they were up to date and it didn’t cost the school district a registration fee. So it was worth it.”

As far as the policy adopted Monday, Maloney told the Spotlight she wished the district would make some changes to its verbiage to improve it.

“I don’t think it’s good policy,” she said. “I think we could’ve had the opportunity to come up with better policy. As a board member, I want to come up with the best policy.”