- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - Following complaints from parents, Cape Girardeau school officials said they are taking steps to ensure staffers follow a district policy governing student surveys.

Earlier this month, seventh- and eighth-graders at Cape Central Junior High were given a survey that asked questions about sexual orientation, sexual activity, drug use and illegal activities.

Students answered the questions anonymously, but after parents complained and staff reviewed the survey, the district asked EPIC, or Early Prevention Impacts Community, to erase the responses.

School board president Kyle McDonald told the Southeast Missourian (https://bit.ly/1wrgu4I ) that the district has a policy that wasn’t followed that requires parental permission for surveys like EPIC’s. School employees also didn’t review what was in it before giving it to students, because they thought it was acceptable.

“But that situation has been rectified, and we’re just making sure that from this point forward it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “I’m confident that it is being handled correctly.”

McDonald said school administrators are working with staff to make sure they all are aware of the policy.

Superintendent Jim Welker said that parents will be notified in the future of such surveys and that all surveys will be reviewed.

EPIC, a community organization that works to prevent youth substance abuse, said the junior high school has distributed the survey before. The group said they ask schools to administer it so they can gather information on what “students report as their strengths and supports in the community, as well as their risk behaviors” and work on developing drug abuse prevention strategies.

In Maryland last year, parents were upset over sophomores at a Maryland high school participating in a survey that had questions about religion, sexual orientation and their parents’ political affiliations. Students could respond anonymously to questions, but they had to register with a username and password to take the survey.

Clemson University in South Carolina stopped administering a survey after students complained it asked for details about their sexual activity.


Information from: Southeast Missourian, https://www.semissourian.com

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