Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson discusses the sexual education policies that the Natchez-Adams County School District must choose before June 30.

Board tables sex-ed vote

Published 12:05am Friday, June 15, 2012

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School Board voted Thursday to hold off on a vote about sex education until their understanding of the policies matures a bit.

The board voted 4-1 at its regular meeting to table a vote on which policy the district will adopt until next week.

The district’s administration has recommended a policy called “abstinence-only.”

Board member Dr. Benny Wright, who told a fellow board member he was prepared to vote for the “abstinence-plus” policy, voted against tabling the vote.

Along with every other school district in the state, NASD must choose a sex education policy before June 30. A state law passed last year, House Bill 999, mandates school districts choose either an “abstinence-only” policy or “abstinence-plus.”

The difference between abstinence-only and abstinence-plus is that with former policy, the school district may teach some or all of the following curriculum to students of the appropriate age, and the latter policy makes the following criteria mandatory.

The criteria includes:

•Social, psychological and health gains associated with abstinence

•Harmful consequences of adolescent sex

•Skills to deal with unwanted sexual advances, including the role of alcohol and drug use

• Abstinence as the only way to avoid pregnancy and STDs

• Discussions of condom and contraceptive use, along with facts about risks and failure rates

• State laws related to sexual conduct

• Teaching that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the most healthy option for sex

“I believe that our children need to be exposed to every educational opportunity in this (sex education) area that the state will approve,” Wright said.

“Hear, hear,” Board member Tim Blalock responded.

Interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson emphasized that if the district chooses abstinence only, they can still teach all the curriculum outlined by the state in the abstinence-plus policy.

“If you go with abstinence-plus you must teach (all aspects),” Johnson said.

Blalock said he would worry that if the district had an option to teach a limited curriculum, that the course would end up focusing on the minimum requirements.

“It’s baffling to me how much people don’t know and don’t talk about (sex),” Blalock said. “(The sex-education policy) is a great opportunity to give them the great truth.”

Board member David Troutman also shared concern that if some of the topics are optional they will not be covered.

“It’s just my feeling that some of those optional topics are very important,” Troutman said.

Barnett said the school board should follow the district’s recommendation, which was for abstinence-only.

ROD GUAJARDO / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Incoming Superintendent Frederick Hill attends Thursday’s meeting.

“I think that leeway should be given to professional educators who we have employed to teach to decide what we’re going to teach,” Barnett said.

“That’s right,” Johnson responded.

Wright said the STD and teenage pregnancy statistics reveal that parents and churches are not effectively dealing with teen sex, and the sex-education policy provided an opportunity to apply good sense.

“We’ve got to pull our head out the sand and deal with what is real,” Wright said.

In other news from Thursday’s meeting:

• Though he kept quiet for the most part, incoming Superintendent Frederick Hill attended Thursday’s meeting. Barnett introduced Hill to the attendees after Hill shook hands with the principals.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and to the staff and committee members of this district — I hope you will trust that I am going to work hard to move the Natchez-Adams School District in the right direction,” Hill said to applause.

Later at the meeting, the board voted to authorize Hill to be a signing party effective July 1 to the district’s bank account, along with Barnett and NASD Business Manager Margaret Parson.

• After the meeting, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Charlotte Franklin confirmed the district recently made principal assignments for newly reorganized schools.

The changes include the transfer of former Robert Lewis Middle School Principal Sekufele Lewanika to be the new ninth-grade academy principal on the campus of the Natchez High School. Lewanika will not have an assistant principal.

Former Robert Lewis Assistant Principal Zandra McDonald will now be an assistant principal at Morgantown Middle School, assisting Principal Alyson Bequette. Ernest “Tony” Fields will also remain as assistant principal at Morgantown.

Elementary and middle school teachers were recently mailed letters with their school assignments, which were randomly assigned with their respective certifications in mind, Franklin said.

• Troutman presented Johnson with a certificate of appreciation for her interim leadership, which she accepted to standing applause.

Wright said Johnson was very deserving of the thanks.

“(Johnson) came out of retirement to help us and (we’re) very appreciative of the work she has done and will continue to do as she steps aside as a private citizen,” Wright said.

• The board voted to solicit an architect for renovations of the Robert Lewis site’s transformation into a magnet school.

The board also voted to solicit an architect and take bids for a renovation to the Morgantown Middle School gym floor, which is currently carpeted.

  • Anonymous

    Reality Check:

    40% of all births nation-wide are illegitimate.  >70% of all black births are illegitimate.  The school district is ~90% black.

    Now you tell me where in the Mississippi (one of the highest illegitimate birth rates in the country) is there is a better opportunity to try something different that MAY work?  We sure know was doesn’t.

    Sarah Palin as governor ONLY backed “absence-only” sex ed (Alaska continues to have one of the highest illegitimate birth rates in the country).  And BTW, she was knocked up before she married, her daughter got knocked up, as did her daughter in law.

    Yes, by all means, continue to back absence-only.

  • Anonymous

    Absence only is probably a better choice than abstinence only.  Good idea.

  • Anonymous

    Good riddance to Joyce Johnson. So glad to hear she’s (hopefully) going back into retirement where the old battle-ax belongs!

    Kids today need the whole truth. It’s sad to me to meet a woman my age with PID because no one taught her to use condoms. Abstinence only doesn’t work, but i promise you this….showing pictures of genitals infected with herpes will. Think about it folks…..Dry statistics doesn’t make it real for 13-14 year old kid. I hope that the parents of this God forsaken town will open up their eyes, and their minds, and allow sex ed to be taught. Not just partial truths, but the whole truth. When you see a 17 year old girl with her first child, having unprotected sex with a guy who gave her trich, less than a month after giving birth, you know something needs to be done.

  • Anonymous

    SINCE THE BOARD IS HAVING A PROBLEM SOLVING THE ISSUES; LET THE KIDS VOTE ON IT, THEY KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR THEM. THEY ARE HUNGRY FOR A >FULL< SEX EDUCATION CLASS.  THE DISTRICT'S ADMINISTRATION RECOMMADITION OF "ABSTINENCE-ONLY" MUST BE OUT OF THERE MINDS. JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT SEXUAL ACTIVE; DON'T MEAN THAT THE KIDS ARE. IF ABSTINENCE-ONLY IS ADOPTED, MIGHT AS WELL CONTINUE WITHOUT A SEX EDUCATION CLASS. 

  • Anonymous

    Once again: Getting that ‘GOBMINT’ check outweighs all the sex education you can teach the child in school. Instead teach the children who will soon be voting age themselves, that they will not be rewarded for having illegitimate children. That education will far out weigh any sex education. Stop paying them for spewing out illegitimate kids.   

  • vilou09

    You can’t argue with facts. You can try all day long, but when the sun goes down, you just have to call a spade a spade.

  • vilou09

    NO, the kids OBVIOUSLY DON’T know what’s best for them, or they wouldn’t be making these awful choices and mistakes. DUH, DD. EVERYBODYKNOWSTHAT.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    I feel thev kids need the whole show if they aren’t getting it from their parents are church!! I know that they aren’t for there wouldn’t be this problem so give them all the tools to stop rueining of their lifes and being costly to the taxpayers isn’t hard to make a decision!!! Again, the school board needs to be elected ASAP!!!

  • Anonymous

    Abstinence plus is the way to go, IMHO.  It sounds very much like what I was teaching at Cathedral 15-20 years ago.

  • Anonymous

    OK, let’s be honest about this.  First, in the modern age, people are getting married at a much older age than at any time in history.  In my parents’ time it was not uncommon for women to be married at 15 or 16 , especially in the south.  That did not always include a “formal” wedding.  As often as not it was a “jumpin’ o’ the broom” type ceremony or a woman/girl simply moved in with her man.  Secondly, do y’all remember what was happening in your bodies when you were high school age?  Especially you men.  Every fiber in your being was screaming for sex.  But you had the bodies of young men and the minds of older children.  There’ a reason we don’t let children vote, or drive, or get conceal and carry permits, or have sex with adults.  Thirdly, abstinence only doesn’t work.  It’s kind of like the “just say no” campaign.  Kids may be naive, but they’re not stupid.  Everything they see on TV, in the media, in they’re lives has a sexual connotation.  To smuggly tell them not to pay attention to that is naive on our part.  Finally, what a great display of leadership.  No decision is indeed a decision. 

  • Anonymous

    So you punish the children?

  • Anonymous

    Whoever you are you must have something personal against Mrs.Joyce Johnson. She is a great leader. She is kind and fair to ALL employees. If you don’t like working or following rules then you will have a problem with her. She does not like to half-step or do a partial job on anything. If you do not have ALL your ducks in the row you will not make the cut. Her job is to see to it that EVERYONE in the district is working to make the common goal “Educating the children” come together.

  • Anonymous

    OMG, are you serious?

  • Anonymous

    thank you for your correction.

  • Anonymous

    Unbelievably, I agree with DD.

  • Anonymous

    It doesn’t matter, as long as the government keeps rewarding impoverished mothers for having children. More children = more welfare.

  • Anonymous

    I sure don’t like her. If she’s so great, then why does she still up for her “best friends”, instead of trying to hear a parent out? No yelling, cursing, or bring disrespectful because my parents taught me better. She’s just like most black teachers in the school district. Very quick to defend and be defensive rat

  • Anonymous

    They punish the child by bringing it into the world to get Fed aid and food stamps. They do not want the child for any other purpose. A government run orphanage would cost less than paying the female that has perpetuated this problem and continues a life long cycle in doing so. The government would take the child at birth and raise it to be a responsible human being and prevent it becoming a junkie thug on the streets like it probably would do if left with the non-caring kid that birth it. If left with the birther it will continue as it has been going on for many generations. It’s time to stop it and give these new kids a decent chance in life raised by cring people paid by your tax dollars. o  

  • Anonymous

    There are so many holes in this silly arguement that it would take more space than this forum allows.  So I have two questions; does anyone want the government telling one how many children they can raise?  And what bureacracy gets to determine who keeps their kids and who doesn’t?