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Board votes 5 to 2 to approve adoption of curriculum for kindergarten through middle school, and a high school text

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Scappoose School Board member Lisa Maloney speaks during a school board meeting Monday, March 12. The school board voted to approve a new health curriculum. Maloney cast one of two dissenting votes against its adoption, citing concerns about the inclusion of gender identity lessons at an early age. The Scappoose School District will get a new set of health curriculum for the 2018-19 school year after the board of directors approved the curriculum Monday night.

The board voted 5 to 2 to accept the recommendation of two new curriculums — "The Great Body Shop" for K-8 and "Glencoe Health," offered by McGraw Hill, for the high school — after receiving a recommendation from a curriculum review committee Monday, March 12.

Board members Lisa Maloney and Tim Brooks voted in opposition.

During the board meeting Monday, Maloney expressed concern about the K-8 curriculum's comprehensive inclusion of gender identity and gender expression with young students.

"In the Oregon Health standards for kindergarten, one of the ones that Oregon has written on their own, and this is for five-year-olds is to, 'discuss and communicate respectfully about all people of gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations,'" Maloney said. "So, I know a number of kindergarteners that can't even tie their shoes, and that standard is getting into a realm that I don't think should, in any realm, be in education."

She said the comprehensive inclusion of lessons around gender identity was not something she was comfortable with or would support.

"It's throughout. I mean, starting in kindergarten, the gender identities, teaching kids about all of those things which really is gender confusion," Maloney said of The Great Body Shop curriculum.

No comments were made regarding the high school curriculum.

Interim Superintendent Ron Alley noted that each school ultimately has local control over which units of the curriculum are used in the classroom.

"We, maybe in the past, got caught up on that we weren't just adopting a health curriculum, [but] we think of it as just a sex ed curriculum. But the board should know that curriculum starts with the federal and state recommendations, but the local control is in place through the plan of instruction," Alley said.

The school board began the process of reviewing the health curriculum in November, after it was informed its current curriculum didn't cover certain topics the state now requires. A special committee began reviewing new curriculum prospects shortly afterward and heard pitches from at least six companies before selecting a set of curriculums to be presented to the school board for possible adoption.

"The number one item I want the board to know is, the committee, we did a thorough and complete job," Alley said of reviewing possible curriculums to propose for adoption. "The committee was a wide spectrum of staff, public health officials, parents, community members, a school nurse.

All viewpoints were represented."

One of those committee members, Christa Meshell, spoke Monday about her personal opposition to the selected curriculum. The Great Body Shop offers printed and electronic materials that are updated on an annual basis, allowing the text to change. Meshell said parents should be notified of those changes before they take place.

Meshell also stated concern about the shift from discussing inappropriate sexual touching at the fifth-grade level to discussing sex in detail at the sixth-grade level in an optional curriculum unit.

"How, as a district, will you navigate that message to students?" Meshell asked. "That creates a confusing message."

Alley explained that Monday's vote was only the first step in the process and the school board would still need to find money in the budget to pay for the curriculum materials, which at this point has an unknown dollar amount attached.

Both Maloney and Brooks also stated concern about the unknown cost of the curriculum Monday night.

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