Mother says LPS survey went too far

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Lincoln mother said she's furious over a survey a Lincoln Public Schools' teacher gave to her daughter.

Misty Francis said she knew something was wrong the minute she picked her daughter up from Goodrich Middle School last week.

"She slammed the door," she said. "She slammed her bag down... and then it all came out."

When her daughter told her about the assignment Francis told 10/11 news, she didn't believe her. "I was like, 'It's phrased exactly that way. How can they ask our kids that?"

Students were asked questions like:
How many cigarettes have you smoked in the past month?
How many times have you been drunk in the past year?

"As if they don't have enough insecurities as is at middle school and hitting puberty. Because being 12 is hard," Francis said.

But the question that upset Francis the most involved premarital sex, something she said her daughter's teacher told her is wrong and against his religion.

The question asked, "What word describes a girl your age who can't wait until marriage to have sex?"

Francs said this question offended her and broke her heart. "My child knows that I wasn't married. And to have her entire classroom saying girls like me were sluts," Francis said.

She said her daughter told the teacher what kids were saying, "And he says, 'Well everyone is entitled to their opinion.'"

Lincoln Public Schools would not go on camera, but told 10/11 News the All Stars Opinion Survey is something it's used for 20 years and nobody has ever complained.

The district also said the survey is anonymous and optional. However, Francis's daughter said her teacher told her if she didn't hand it in her grade would suffer.

In an email, the district told 10/11 News, "LPS is adopting new K-7 curriculum for social and emotional health, and this particular activity will not be included in coming years."

Francis said she's glad no other child will have to answer these questions, but she said she will never understand why the district thought this survey was okay.

A few hours after we contacted LPS, Francis called our station. She told us LPS apologized for the survey and told her they would talk to the teacher.

According to LPS, the All Stars Opinion Survey is an optional, anonymous document that asks students to give one-word answers to questions that ask about behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, sexual conduct, violence, and other at-risk behaviors. This information is compiled to guide future discussions and activities, with the ultimate goal of preventing high-risk behaviors. "

Participation or non-participation in the survey does not impact a student grades, according to LPS. Only the teacher sees the anonymous responses.

The behaviors included in the questions can be difficult subjects to talk about openly in a classroom. The anonymous and optional part of the survey is helpful for students to consider their own perceptions of the behaviors.

The All Stars curriculum focuses on five strategies that research indicates will decrease young people’s chances of being involved in these behaviors:

- Reinforce the belief that student peers do NOT find risky behaviors as normal or acceptable
- Underline the belief that risky behaviors do not fit with the youth's personal ideals and future aspirations
- Create voluntary personal and public commitments to not participate in risky behaviors
- Strengthen relationships between the adolescent and positive social institutions
- Encourages youth and parent interaction through parent/child homework assignments

This feedback also helps teachers and staff in LPS identify what areas to focus on for possible classroom discussions.