Board fails to pass majority vote to renew adoption of health curriculum, including sexuality education

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Board member Lisa Maloney stated objections to renewing the current health education curriculum for the Scappoose School District due to its references to gender identity and abortion during a school board meeting Monday night. The newest elected board member, Tim Brooks, joined Maloney in voting against the curriculum adoption.The Scappoose School District board of directors will wait another month before voting to renew health curriculum for the district.

During a school board meeting Monday, Nov. 13, the board failed to pass a majority vote to renew the current curriculum being used by teachers in the district to teach health and sexual education courses.

Two board members — Jim Hoag and Will Kessi — were absent from the meeting, leaving only five members present. The board failed to approve the adoption of the curriculum with a 3 to 2 vote. Four affirmative votes were needed to approve the curriculum.

Board member Lisa Maloney objected to renewal of the current curriculum because of references she cited in the text that refer to gender identity and abortion-inducing medications. When pressed by board member Angela Schillereff for specific references to those topics, Maloney did not cite specific chapters, pages or notations in the curriculum, but said, "They're in there."

Maloney and Tim Brooks cast the dissenting votes. After the failed motion, Maloney made a second motion to adopt the curriculum on the condition any references to gender identity and abortion be restricted from use in the classroom. That motion also failed on a 2 to 3 vote.

Schillereff asked for clarification about what is specifically being taught in the classroom. A wide range of topics and information could be included in a curriculum, Schillereff said, but it doesn't mean all of those topics are actually incorporated into lessons.

No one at the meeting was able to answer the question, and a request for clarification from the school district and school health staff was not provided to the Spotlight by press time Thursday.

After brief discussion, the board voted 5 to 0 to table the vote until the next meeting in December.

The postponement of the curriculum adoption raises two potential conflicts, however — one, certain health classes have already taught units regarding sexual education using the curriculum which has been in place for three years, and that was not renewed; and two, the board will need to adopt an entirely new set of health curriculum for the 2018-19 school year.

Interim Superintendent Ron Alley explained that Oregon Department of Education standards have changed and health curriculum must now contain topics now absent from the current curriculum.

A committee will begin reviewing curriculum to meet the new ODE standards, Alley said. The school board will vote in spring on which health curriculum to adopt based on the committee's recommendation.

Parents can have their children opt out of certain topics in health classes involving sexual education, and several students opted out at the beginning of the school year, Alley said. At the middle school, Alley said the health instructor also emails parents when sexual health topics are going to be covered in class, providing a second opportunity for students to opt out.

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