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Investigator hired after students asked about sex

LINCOLN — The Alcona Community Schools Board of Education has hired an outside firm to review, audit, and consult district officials regarding parent complaints about a survey school officials gave to some elementary and middle school students in error.

The survey contained some sexual content and was given to students without parental consent, and parents were concerned about the lack of oversight by school officials.

The district Board of Education last week voted unanimously to hire the Bingham Farms-based Recon Management Group to conduct the investigation, but did not specify how much the district will pay the firm during the meeting.

School board President Ken Chamberlain said Superintendent Dan O’Connor recommended the board hire an outside firm to investigate how the series of errors occurred and how they could avoid such errors in the future.

Chamberlain said he did not know how long the investigation would take.

“That will depend on, I guess, on the people they interview, how many, how long, and getting that analysis back to the board, back to the superintendent,” he said.

He said disciplinary action would be in the hands of the superintendent, based on the findings of the survey.

Parents expressed their concern about the survey on Facebook, during a parent meeting O’Connor held in early November, and during the board’s workshop last week.

O’Connor was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

However, O’Connor previously told The News the survey was intended to help officials determine additional support students might need and identify challenges students may have faced over the last nine months of the coronavirus pandemic.

He told The News students in some fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade classes took the survey but that the surveys were stopped after receiving calls from parents about the content of the survey.

O’Connor apologized to parents in a letter and said the survey had questions that should not have been included, which exposed students to sexual content and themes.

He also acknowledged two major things went wrong — the first was that school officials didn’t notify parents they would give the survey and the second was that the wrong survey went to the younger students.

He said the state strongly recommended that schools screen for students’ mental health, but that the survey wasn’t entirely geared toward sex or sexual activity. He said other questions on the survey addressed student’s self-esteem and mental health, and how well their basic needs were being met.

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