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Local school district face two very different tragedies

It’s been a tough couple weeks for the Madras and Culver school districts.

Last Thursday came the shocking news of the arrest of the Madras High School teacher and coach Michael Osborne after authorities discovered he’d been having a long-running sexual affair with a high school student athlete.

This case has already left a spread of victims. The perpetrator was married with three kids, and was arrested at his Redmond home. Imagine the heartbreak in that house. The actual victim, her family ... lives will never be the same.

No doubt Madras High, its athletic programs and the school district in general are victims. But the community needs to give the district credit: they handled this situation as well as it could be handled.

By all accounts, 509-J was quick to fully cooperate with authorities and provided important elements in the initial investigation. The school district’s handling of the incident showcases a modern, proactive public entity.

Over the years, many youth organizations and/or schools facing similar cases of staff/student sex crimes, or other abuse, haven’t reacted in such fashion. The urge to shrink from the embarrassment, to protect and trust the employee over the student, is often the mode of operation, at least initially. That seems to be changing, thankfully, and appeared absolutely absent from the local district’s radar.

At first, it was easy to be somewhat taken aback when hearing that the district made a public address system announcement regarding the arrest at the high school, at the outset of the day Thursday. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the brave, most correct choice. Certainly the news would have been out soon anyway, with rumors filling the halls and the spreading of such making classwork focus impossible. Why not get it out there to everyone, and begin the process of moving forward?

The district Thursday also contacted parents of students of all ages, via their automatic call system.

Unless it comes out that district officials had information regarding the teacher/coach/student relationship in advance and did nothing about it — and I have no information to think that was the case, nor would I expect it to be — then the district earns nothing but high praise for its handling of the incident.

In Culver, there was shock of another kind, followed by pure heartbreak, with the sudden death of Keith Garber, the husband of the district superintendent, Stefanie Garber.

The Garbers owned a ranch in the Powell Butte area. On Saturday, Nov. 16, Mr. Garber died of a heart attack. He left his wife and two children.

Stefanie Garber is a bright, shining light at Culver’s schools. She was initially a teacher, who was asked to be a principal, who then was asked to be the superintendent while continuing as a principal. She stepped up to each challenge, and has been a very well-respected, productive leader for the district throughout her tenure.

It’s another lesson on how life can be unfair, random and, often a vicious rollercoaster. Stephanie experienced a great professional achievement days earlier with the passage of the Culver bond, after she’d led two tries that had failed. She wasn’t given much time to savor the achievement.

Our hearts and prayers go out Mrs. Garber, her family, and the Culver School District family during this difficult time.

All of us have plenty to be thankful for this Thursday, especially those of us whose lives haven’t been upended by occurrences they had no control over. This Thanksgiving, or anytime you choose, consider saying a prayer for our community members who haven’t been so lucky .



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  • 18 Sep 2014

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  • 19 Sep 2014

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