- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

FULTON, Mo. (AP) - Fulton Public Schools has self-reported federal law violations that administrators believe were committed when students were asked personal questions during an activity called “Claim It” recently in a Fulton Middle School physical education class.

The Fulton Sun (https://bit.ly/1xZsRZD ) reports that the school district initiated a plan to address the violations Tuesday. Students in the class were read various statements about their identity. If the statement applied to a student’s life, he or she stepped forward in a line, according to activity materials provided by the district.

Some of the statements that upset parents and students touched on topics such as sexual abuse and financial problems inside the students’ homes.

Under federal law, students cannot be required to “submit a survey, analysis or evaluation that reveals information” regarding areas including political affiliations, mental problems, sex behavior or attitudes, religious affiliations, or income without prior parental consent. The violations were self-reported to Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

According to Fulton Public Schools, the activity was a part of a school day focusing on character education and is a part of the Fulton Middle School health curriculum. The newspaper reports that the “Claim it” materials say the activity is designed to encourage people to claim the many parts of their identities and respect the identities of others.

One parent said her daughter, a sixth-grade student, has experienced crying spells since the activity and has expressed that she did not want to return to school after spring break. The mother also said her daughter told her that teachers had asked the students not to discuss the activity outside of class.

Part of the district’s plan to address the violations include providing additional counselors at the school talk to students about their concerns and requiring physical education and health activities be reviewed by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Hull a week before they are conducted.

Superintendent Jacque Cowherd apologized March 23 in an email to parents about the survey which some deemed inappropriate.

About 20 parents met Saturday to discuss the activity.

“We’re criticizing the event, and we want to make sure that if this is a symptom of larger problems in the district, we want to make sure the administrators are held accountable and that central office is held accountable,” said Amanda Murdie, a parent of a sixth-grade student and a leader of the newly-created parent-organized group Parents for Fulton Schools.

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Information from: The Fulton Sun, https://www.fultonsun.com


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