A purported class assignment that focused on religious beliefs and personal convictions is causing a minor stir in the Nebo School District.
While Superintendent Denis Poulsen agrees a handout distributed by a teacher to her 9th-grade honors English students last spring was "inappropriate," he adds the issue is being blown out of proportion.Yet at least one Nebo patron believes the handout is evidence of a much larger problem within the district. Dorothy Bryson, member of Citizens for Common Sense and a regular critic of the district, says the handout, which she calls an "opinionnaire," does not belong in the classroom.
"Teachers don't need to be talking about religion," Bryson said. "I have a problem with giving that type of material to students."
Poulsen said Tuesday district officials investigated the matter and cautioned the unidentified teacher about probing religious subjects in class. Poulsen will briefly explain the results of his findings at Wednesday night's school board meeting, he said.
At last month's meeting, Bryson brought the handout to the attention of the school board, explaining that the teacher had given students a paper that included seven religion-related statements as a homework assignment.
"I'm only going tell the board that the report Mrs. Bryson made was not correct," Poulsen said. "It was not filled out, it wasn't turned in. It was not an assignment as it was purported to be."
The only other feedback he said he received in regard to the handout was a letter in support of the teacher from a parent whose student was a member of the class.
Among the statements included in the handout were: "If a religious leader has done some things wrong, is it all right to get rid of them by whatever means necessary?" "Having strict religious beliefs is unhealthy;" and "No cause, religious or otherwise, is worth dying for."
Students were asked to agree or disagree with the statements, according to Bryson. She said she learned about the handout from a concerned parent.
Bryson says she's not the only one who is concerned about what Nebo students are learning. She said this incident is just one example of problems within the district. She said many parents are afraid to speak out.
"The issue here is not this particular handout," Bryson said. "It is how much control do we have over what our children are being taught?"
However, district officials are getting used to Bryson's protests. She appears at most board meetings to protest something in the district. While acknowledging the inappropriateness of the handout, district officials say most of Bryson's complaints are exaggerated, contain inaccurate information and that the majority of Nebo patrons are satisfied with the way the district operates.