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Day: October 27, 2017

Let’s talk about sex, maybe: Students, teachers united against reporting changes

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Students, teachers united against reporting changes

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

An expansion of mandatory reporting policies in the Salem-Keizer School District isn’t sitting well with teachers or students at McNary High School.

Teachers were notified in the second week of October that they would need to take an additional mandatory reporting training online and, by early last week, teachers, students and even parents were challenging the new rules in private and through petition and protest.

“It’s really nice to be able to go to our teachers because there are some things you aren’t comfortable talking with your parents about. The teachers at McNary are genuinely caring. They want to help you succeed and be there as an ear,” said Kimberly Schott, a McNary junior and an organizer of a protest in downtown Salem Monday, Oct. 23.

“The district wants a safe, healthy environment, but I don’t feel safe if I can’t talk about some of these issues without getting reported,” said Schott.

Schott also initiated an online petition at change.org (http://bit.ly/2y1ayDY) that has garnered more than 500 signatures. A sit-in protest was planned for Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the school.

Prior to the changes, SKSD teachers were required to report incidences of suspected neglect or any type of abuse to the Department of Human Services, but the new guidelines expand reporting to most sex-related issues. New instances that would require reporting include: a student inquiring about birth control options after admitting to sex with a partner; reports of a pregnancy; a student confiding in a teacher after being kicked out of his home for divulging a sexually active, same-sex relationship.

The training materials suggest that the new guidelines were put in place based on current child abuse reporting laws and “conversation with community partners who are experts on the issue.”

A spokesperson for the district, Lillian Govus, said, “This is not a change in policy, merely a clarification. As mandatory reporters, we simply give the information to the correct agencies, but it is up to their discretion whether action would be taken. This presentation is being shared with all Salem-Keizer employees to ensure we are in compliance with this law.”

However, the clarification feels like a stretch, said Ricky Galvin, a McNary sophomore.

“The law says to report sexual abuse and rape and nothing about consensual sex,” Galvin said. “What’s the point of them teaching sex ed if a student does decide to have safe sex and ends up getting reported when they want to talk about it?”

It also made junior Marissa Dougall, another student organizer, feel uneasy.

“This change wasn’t communicated to students or parents except through teachers. If I didn’t know about this rule, what other rules don’t I know about that could get me reported?” Dougall said.

Talk within the school rapidly turned to finding the loopholes in the new policy, Dougall added.

“In my advisory class, we talked about this the entire period. We decided we could come in, talk about situations hypothetically and there wouldn’t be anything to report without names,” she said.

In response to the new guidelines regarding inquiries to teachers about birth control, Dougall and Schott pointed out that students could walk into Planned Parenthood and receive birth control without parental knowledge.

Galvin bristled at an example regarding the homosexual student.

“He just got kicked out of his home, and now he’s potentially dealing with a investigation?  Does the student have to deal with it or the parents or does the district just let it go because it’s too hard to deal with? If they can just let that go, why not all the other ones?” Galvin said.

That particular example also raised the hackles of a McNary teacher who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“I’m not reporting that kid to DHS, he’s needs to get a home and help. I’m not going to turn him in for having sex. He’s already vulnerable and at a high risk for suicide,” the teacher said.

Under prior guidelines, the teacher said they were still cautious about student interaction, but not afraid to intervene.

“If a kid is in the hallway bawling and I always ask them to tell me what’s going on. I ask if it’s social or school. They might say it’s social and I ask if it’s friend or boyfriend drama,” the teacher said.

The next questions revolve around whether the student is being hurt by someone, the teacher said. Depending on the specifics of the issue and the gender of the student, the teacher said they would either counsel the student themselves or refer them to a teacher of the same gender.

If the teacher overhead students talking about consensual sex, the students were asked to change the topic.

“To me, I feel like I’m being told to tell the students to shut up,” the teacher said. “Teachers are also being told to establish appropriate adult-student connections so that when students come to school they feel safe and cared for. If students have a trusted adult at school that they need to talk with about sex, I see no problem with teachers being that.”

To a one, the students rallying support against the changes found it hard to believe the roles they’ve assumed in the last two weeks, but all three mentioned an easily overlooked situation that will occur frequently if the new guidelines stand: numerous teachers at McNary and elsewhere in the district have students in Salem-Keizer schools. There’s no delineation in the new guidelines for those situations.

“That’s crazy,” said Schott. “We are losing our trust in the district that is supposed to help us grow into the adults.”

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Let’s talk about sex, maybe: District ‘clarifies’ mandatory reporting guidelines

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District ‘clarifies’ mandatory reporting guidelines

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Christy Perry, superintendent of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, told the Keizertimes that a state law requiring teachers to mandatory report if they have reasonable cause to believe that two students under the age of 18 are having sexual contact isn’t new.

The 13 slides sent to teachers in the Salem-Keizer School District last week were a clarification from a question about mandatory reporting recently asked by a member of the community.

“That question came about so we spent quite a bit of time with many of our partners including law enforcement, department of human services and the district attorney’s office,” Perry said. “We really tried to be careful and thoughtful and really take scenarios to our partners and talk about them before we rolled this out. Really it’s just a clarification and for students it seems big, I know that, but it’s a clarification for a law that’s existed for a long time.”

The law comes from Oregon statute 163.315, which says a person is considered incapable of consenting to a sexual act if they are under 18 years of age.

“The child abuse mandatory reporting statute is the statute we live under and the definition that says a person under the age of 18 is incapable of consenting is defined in the statute as sex abuse, so you see our dilemma,” Perry said. “The remedy is about clarification to the law. We’re doing our best to interpret it the way we think it should be interpreted but what we can’t do is put our teachers at risk, because they’re mandatory reporters and they need to report sex abuse. We’re trying to protect our teachers. We’re trying to protect the safety of students and we have in some ways what people might think are conflicting laws.”

Teachers are legally required to report 24 hours, seven days a week.

“I am required to make a mandatory report 24-7, even if we are out in public in off hours and see what we would constitute as child abuse, we have to report,” Perry said.

Teachers are even obligated to report their own children.

“That’s the position the law puts educators in,” said Lillian Govus, director of communications for the district. “That’s probably not the intent of the law but it’s also not our job to guess what the intent of the law is.”

Once a teacher reports abuse, it’s up to DHS on how to proceed.

“We really worked to say to our educators that your job is just to report,” Perry said. “We don’t want them in the business of investigation because you don’t know where an investigation leads to and we want to leave that to the job of the people who are trained to do that.”

Parents weren’t notified of the changes.

“We just did the training out to teachers because we believe it’s a clarification of the law and we’re not asking teachers to go out and find out if kids are having sexual intercourse,” Perry said.

Perry understands the outcry from students, which included a change.org online petition with more than 500 signatures and a small protest at the capital on Monday.

“I actually feel bad about that and I think it goes back to the remedy: let’s either legislate a clarification or change the law,” Perry said. “We also believe it’s really important to protect kids and we also know that underage sexual activity cannot be consensual. It’s such a big and complicated problem with protecting kids, yet helping them feel safe so they have strong adults to make sure they have healthy relationships.”

The school district does mandatory training every year in August. The slides clarifying questions about mandatory reporting were added in October at a meeting between all of the administrators.

Teachers have until Nov. 15 to sign off that they’ve viewed the slides.

“We wanted to be sure we really understood the issue,” Perry said.

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Pick your battles

Many people have found their political voice at every level of government in America. It is easy to express one’s opinion, especially if it is anonymously on social media.

Conversations touching on everything from taxes to schools to the U.S. foreign policy is rife with angry words that leap off the computer screen:  outraged, angry, unbelievable, treason and worse. Either side of any issue its supporters and its detractors. People on both sides of any subject cannot believe that anyone would think opposite of themselves, and therefore are deserving of invectives.

It is impossible to read through Facebook  or Twitter on any day and not see the words that people use to show their displeasure on the opinions or actions of others. This poster is outraged, that poster is angry. To what end?

Most people know their rights when it comes to speech, religion and guns. Rights are one thing, societal responsibility is another. Even though we have the right to say and write that we are outraged over something, it doesn’t foster understanding, it only hardens people into silos of righteousness.

It is our right to express anger at things we don’t agree with; it should be our responsibility to attempt to be part of a solution to the problem at hand.

If neighbors disagree and throw verbal tantrums, disinterested spectators can be concerned about the level of the argument. The public should be even more concerned about the on-going social media battles undertaken by our political leaders.

There are two sides to every issue—both sides believe they are correct. The arguments take a toll when positions are hardened and compromise seems to be out of the question.

There are issues in Keizer that cause divisons: parking issues on Newburg Drive or new fees to support city parks. Everyone has an opinion on things happening in our city. To express outrage does not move the conversation along.

Social media has allowed millions of Americans to join the national or local political debate. It is important to remember that those millions of people had the ability to let their views be heard all along. It’s called an election. If one doesn’t like what their elected representative is doing they need only take the slight effort to vote in their party primary or a general election.

We are all for sharing opinions and views. We promote conversations that help reach solutions. Everything can’t be worth a fight. There are too many problems and crises in the world to be riled up over a small kerfuffle. If one is to go to battle with words, be sure it’s worth it.

There is power in words and when a social media poster expresses outrage, for example, we tune it out. Most people will respond better to a thoughtful, invective-free opinion.

We know we do.

  —LAZ

Start of the holidays

Next Tuesday is Halloween, which has taken on a larger role in our modern-day culture. Most of the celebrating, especially by adults will presumably occur this weekend.

It is inescapable that Halloween is, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of holiday season. Yes, Halloween is a holiday to many people. From now until the Super Bowl, America and Keizer will be marking Thanksgiving, Channuka, Kwan-za, Christmas, New Year’s Day and football’s Super Bowl with parties, events, promotions and sales.

A meeting of the Keizer Festival Advisory Board, led by Councilor Marlene Parsons, shows that there is a wide variety of events to enjoy right here in the Iris Capital.

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce takes the lead of many events including the Holiday Parade in December and several runs, including the always-popular Turkey Dash early on Thanksgiving Day.

As we move into December, the sound of music will be constant as every school has a band/orchestra/choir concert not to mention the appearance at the State Capitol by Keizer  school choirs.

There will no reason not to be in the holiday mood. A family-centric and kid-friendly city like Keizer will always provide plenty to do, see and enjoy.

For those who love holidays, you are in your time of bliss. For those who merely tolerate the holidays, you mark the season your own way and in your own tradition.

  —LAZ

Three branches of government

To the Editor:

I have spent most of my long life in Oregon but I was born in England. Before I could become a U. S. citizen I had to learn about the American system of government. Three branches: Legislative, Executive and Judicial, each branch operating independently but also providing a “check and balance” to the other two.

When did this system break down, allowing one man to use “executive orders” to bypass the other two? Is this not the way a dictatorship works?

Beryl MacDonald
Keizer

General shames briefing room

By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS

Since retired Gen. John Kelly became White House chief of staff, news outlets have portrayed him as the disciplinarian sent to impose order over an unruly President Donald Trump. Kelly rejects that scenario—when it comes to taming, he has other fish to fry.

To wit, at last week’s press briefing, Kelly tongue-lashed the usually feisty White House press corps so relentlessly that in 18 minutes he reduced the usually swaggering scribes and talking heads into shamed silence.

After Kelly slammed reporters for taking a “sacred” moment—the notification of family when a military member is killed in action—and turning it into a cable-news chew toy, after he pointed out the thankless toil of the 1 percent of Americans who serve in the military and after he directed members of the media to raise their hands if they knew any Gold Star families, Kelly offered one final salvo.

“We don’t look down upon those of you who haven’t served,” Kelly closed. “In fact, in a way, we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kind of things our servicemen and women do. Not for any other reason than they love this country.”

Kelly’s trip to the podium was a rescue mission of sorts designed to extricate Trump from another media mud pit of his own making.

It started Monday when Trump strolled into the Rose Garden with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player in the GOP effort to pass a tax-cut bill. This summer Trump told the press he was “very disappointed” in McConnell. But Monday, Trump promoted McConnell to longtime friend with whom he is “closer than ever before.”

When a reporter asked Trump why he had not commented on four U.S. soldiers recently killed in an ambush in Niger, the president’s need to frame himself as better than his predecessors prompted a tortured response. Trump said he had written letters to the soldiers that would be mailed over the weekend, and that he would like to call the families even though “President Obama, and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.”

Politifact rated Trump’s statement “misleading.” Obama went to Dover Air Force Base to receive the bodies of 18 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and comfort their families in person.

Having backed himself in a corner, Trump phoned the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four killed in Niger. Later, family friend Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, told the media that Trump cavalierly told the widow that Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” but “it still hurts.” Johnson’s aunt added that Trump was disrespectful.

Trump denied that he said the words Wilson had repeated. At Thursday’s briefing, Kelly essentially confirmed Wilson’s quote—although Kelly took strong issue with the suggestion that Trump said anything that did not bestow deserved praise on the slain soldier. Kelly framed the controversy as a new low—with Wilson going after Trump when the president was trying to do the decent thing.

For the Trump voter base, the episode was a clear win. Kelly set the rules that determined which reporters had the right to ask him questions —only Gold Star parents or siblings. When no journalist could claim that painful honor, Kelly offered to take questions from reporters who at least knew a Gold Star family. Thus Kelly exposed the White House press corps as a pack of feckless East Coast elites.

Yes, they squirmed because no one could claim a child, brother or sister killed in action.

It doesn’t matter that Trump could not raise his hand to that question either. Or that Trump was the beneficiary of five Vietnam-era draft deferments. Or that the controversy erupted because the insecure Trump felt he had to one-up his predecessors in every corner, including making phone calls to grieving families.

So John Kelly bailed him out.

(Creators Syndicate)

Rules on religious giving is a slippery slope

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By GENE H. McINTYRE

In a somewhat convoluted statement, media recently reported that the U.S. Justice Department has issued new guidance aimed at giving religious groups and individuals broad protections to express their beliefs when those beliefs come in conflict with government regulations.

Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions’ directive, coming after President Trump’s executive order, mainly targets a tax law provision that thereby allows churches direct involvement in political campaigns but really set the stage in future for allowing Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus and all others to ignore the nation’s civil laws.

Long anticipated, Sessions’ action, following Trump’s announcement in May, also provides protections to America’s religious orders in hiring decisions that could threaten those whose sexual orientation conflicts with the chosen faith of employers.  Referring to his directive, Sessions has said that “except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law” and that “to the extent practicable, religious observance and practice should be accommodated in government.”

Now, there’s much more to Sessions’ mix of religion and government than the latest expression of his thinking on the subject.  During Sessions’ confirmation hearing early this year, he was pressed by his questioners to answer whether job security of a “secular attorney” would be respected in his Justice Department.  Sessions answered citing his concern about truth nowadays not being respected in our nation and that “objective truth is impossible without a certain religious understanding” and that “a post-modern, relativistic, secular mind-set is directly contrary to the founding of our republic.”

Not uncommon in our history have been some Americans who have expressed the belief that the writers of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were devout Christians and view our origins as ultimately a ‘second coming’ where the United States of America will be ruled by fundamental Christian theology and beliefs.  More than one historian of repute has taken issue with such a foundational understanding and argued that the views of the founding fathers were most poignantly expressed by them about religion in the Constitution’s First Amendment as “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Sessions has often remarked on his distaste for and dislike of secularists.  What’s a secularist? A secularist is a person who advocates separation of the state from religious institutions.  The secularist asserts the right to be free from religious rule and its teachings as well as separate from the imposition by government of religion or religious practice upon its people.  Our founding fathers were men of faith but also knew what religion had done for centuries to subjugate the peoples of Europe and did not want the same fate for U.S. citizens.  Virtually all of them also had spoken in speeches and written in essays of a new government that embraced secularism.

When our Constitution, our laws and way of life can be ignored and replaced by the most powerful among the nation’s political and/or religious forces we Americans should keep in mind an insightful message from another country in a time not long ago.  That was the message written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller regarding the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

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Celtics rack up 500 yards at North Medford

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Determined to be more physical, McNary defeated North Medford 40-20 in a non-league football game on Friday, Oct. 20.

“Last year we got smacked because they just came out and were just 10 times more physical than we were,” McNary senior Brayden Ebbs said. “So all practice we were focusing on being able to match or exceed the toughness that they were going to bring to the game and I think we did really well in that part. This game we were just taking it to them and running the ball down their throats because that’s what they did to us last year.”

McNary senior Jonny Williams caught two touchdown passes and had 97 yards receiving at North Medford on Friday, Oct. 20. (MAIL TRIBUNE/Denise Baratta)

The Celtics finished with more than 500 yards on offense—211 rushing and 301 passing.

McNary jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter as quarterback Erik Barker threw touchdown passes to Jonny Williams and Jose Solorio.

The Black Tornado stormed back with 75-yard and 1-yard touchdowns to take a 14-13 lead.

But the Celtics quickly answered as Barker connected with Junior Walling for an 11-yard touchdown.

McNary’s defense then gave the team a spark going into halftime as Walling recovered a fumble deep in North Medford territory and returned it for a touchdown to give the Celtics a 26-14 lead.

“That last score was a huge gift for us,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “It was the last play of the half. The bell rings halfway through the play. It was a pretty good snap. The guy (North Medford quarterback Josh Robbins) mishandles it and then we kick it and Junior picks it up and runs it in.”

The Black Tornado opened the second half running the ball inside McNary’s 10-yard line but the Celtic defense was able to hold on fourth down.

“We were a little worried because they had got together that (first half) drive and we thought they were going to power it right at us again and they tried,” Auvinen said. “We responded and played with more confidence. It ended up being a really good day.”

McNary scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter on a pass from Barker to Williams and a run by Walling to bust the game open and take a commanding 40-13 lead.

“We were thinking it was going to be a pretty close game but going down there and putting the work to them was a pretty good confidence booster,” Ebbs said.

Solorio added an interception before North Medford scored the final touchdown of the night with 10:51 remaining. The Celtics were than able to run out the clock.

“We handled ourselves really well,” Auvinen said. “They were not as good as they were last year. They lost some kids. We played a ton better than we did last year. We did play really well offensively. We played well defensively.”

Walling rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries and caught two passes for 25 yards. Robert Benson had 84 yards on 17 attempts. Barker completed 22 of 31 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Jacob Jackson caught eight passes for 96 yards. Williams had three receptions for 97 yards.

“Our O-line made huge holes for us, gave Erik some time in the pocket,” Walling said. “I think Erik did really well throwing and it was easy for me to run the ball with the O-line doing so well.”

West Salem on tap

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By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary (6-2) will need to play its best game to knock off West Salem (7-1) as the Celtics close the regular season on Friday, Oct. 27 at home.

“Since [last] Friday night, we’ve been talking about just getting our minds right and be ready to play West the best we can,” McNary senior Brayden Ebbs said. “Last year we played them the best we could and we came out on top.”

Since losing to Sheldon 41-7 on Sept. 18, the Titans have won five straight Greater Valley Conference games, outscoring their opponents 273-49. West Salem’s closest league game came in 35-15 at McKay to open the season.

The Titans are No. 8 in the power rankings. McNary is 15th.

Despite its lofty numbers, Ebbs said McNary won’t give West Salem anything.

“We’ve been watching some film but the key to being successful against them is not giving them too much respect because they have to earn that from us,” Ebbs said.

West Salem is led on offense by quarterback Grant Thies, running back Jacob Denning and receivers Anthony Gould and Micah Pugh.

“They’re aggressive,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said of the Titans. “They’re good both offensively and defensively. They’ve got good athletes. They’re well coached. We need to play well in all three facets against a good team and it’s going to be a playoff type atmosphere. Most weeks we’ve continued to take a step up so we’re going to continue to do that.”

West Salem defeated Sprague and McMinnville, the two teams that beat McNary, by a combined score of 97-13, but Auvinen isn’t putting any stock in that.

“Every matchup is different,” he said.

Ebbs, who plays H-back as well as linebacker, said the key will be controlling the time of possession and keeping the ball away from West Salem’s playmakers.

“Our offense has to keep doing what we do best,” Ebbs said.

“We’ve got to put the ball in the end zone, keep the ball moving, keep our offense with the ball.”

Seniors Jakoby Doke (shoulder) and Blake Norton (back) both missed Monday’s practice recovering from injuries but Auvinen expects both to play against West Salem.

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