Teacher placed on leave after questionnaire on sex and drug use given to students
ROY, Utah (KSL) — A high school teacher was placed on administrative leave after handing students a questionnaire that asked them about sexually explicit activities and delinquent behavior, a spokesman for the Weber School District said Monday.
The teacher, who was not identified, handed the survey out to 11th-grade students at Roy High School last week. The class provided instruction in human sexuality and the questionnaire was issued without parental consent, district spokesman Lane Findlay said.
He said the teacher in question was a veteran within the Weber School District and didn’t believe there was any “malicious” intent with the survey.
A copy of the questionnaire has since been removed from the district’s portal. However, it was posted to several websites, including scarymommy.com. The 30-question survey asked students questions from drug use to sexual activity and abortion and originated from a 1967 Ann Landers survey about sex and drugs.
Heather Danks-Miller, whose daughter was handed the survey, said she found out about it when her daughter mentioned her result after taking a questionnaire. Her daughter didn’t want Danks-Miller to see how she answered the survey but read some of the questions back to her mother.
“She read the questions and as she progressed, they were getting worse and worse,” Danks-Miller said. “The last 10 were really disturbing and invasive.”
Even worse, she said, the students were being asked to turn the survey in with their names on it.
“Even if you take it, grade it and hand it right back, what would happen if that paper got into the wrong hands?” she asked. “Some of the questions about the drug use, if you’ve ever smoked pot? Have you ever tried angel dust? I mean you’re asking these people to basically incriminate themselves and turn this paper into you.
“If it was anonymous, sure — but even still. Maybe, here you go, take the quiz and let’s discuss it but you keep the paper. I would be way more comfortable if that happened.”
The final scores ranked students from “a nerd — just where you should be at your age” to “hopeless and condemned.” Students in the class were asked to put their names down for a grade.
“Basically parents consent to have their students be able to discuss and learn about some of those topics. Unfortunately, we had a questionnaire that was given out to students as a part of this course and that questionnaire was outside the approved curriculum,” Findlay said. “We had some parents that came up to us with some concerns about the contents of that questionnaire, so we’ve been looking into it to figure out how that ended up in the classroom and what do we need to do to remedy that situation.”
Findlay said two federal acts and state laws prohibit surveys eliciting information about a student’s sexual behaviors, attitudes, sexual orientation or involvement in criminal behavior. He said district policy notes that teachers are expected to use “professional judgment and discretion in providing age-appropriate material.”
Danks-Miller said she expected the school would apologize and the survey would be taken out of the curriculum. She said that didn’t happen immediately and didn’t learn of the teacher’s administrative leave until media reports.
She questioned if it had been used in the past or if a student wasn’t as open with their parents as her daughter was with her, that the questionnaire would still be given to students.
“How many years has this paper been given out? And how many lives has that affected by telling teenagers they’re hopeless and condemned or they’re a nerd?” she said.
In addition to placing the teacher on administrative leave, Findlay added the district and high school apologized to students and parents for the questionnaire and that it would not be used in the future. It was removed from the school’s portal to ensure it wasn’t distributed in other classrooms.
“Given the contents of the survey, it is inappropriate,” he said. “We’ve looked at it — it’s unacceptable that it ended up in the classroom. … We’re taking it very seriously.”