School board OKs Gay-Straight Alliance Club

Board also approves district abortion policy

ALPENA — There’s a new club at Alpena High School for students to come together and build relationships.

The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education approved the Gay-Straight Alliance Club during its meeting on Monday.

The club will be an opportunity for students to get together and talk, Alpena High Principal Tom Berriman said.

“It’s mainly going to be student-run, but we just want to create an environment where kids have an opportunity to get together and build relationships and build peers and have an environment where kids are comfortable with coming to school and being who they are,” Berriman said.

District Superintendent John VanWagoner said all clubs have to be approved by the board. He said the group was petitioned by a group of students who worked to find a class adviser, who is teacher Andrea Linton.

“This is a group that has the opportunity just to get together and students talk and work and support each other,” VanWagoner said. “This isn’t anything that, as a school district, that we set a curriculum for or anything from that kind of standpoint.”

“It’s another place for students to go and network and support each other,” Berriman said.


The board also approved a new policy that prohibits any officer, agent, or employee of the board from referring a student for an abortion or assisting a student in obtaining an abortion.

The policy came from Neola, an organization that updates policies based on laws and regulations that change at all levels of government.

The policy, which was given to the district earlier this month, had to be approved by Oct. 1 or the district would be fined.

VanWagoner said 3% of an individual’s annual compensation would be deducted if they violate the policy. The district would also be penalized an amount that matches the fine the individual receives.

“It’s something we want to make sure that we get out to all our employees to understand this so we don’t have any issues,” VanWagoner said. “We had policies that had components of it but Neola is recommending immediate adoption from boards that contract with their services.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.


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