Middle school hosts parent forum

Recent report of inappropriate behavior prompts questions

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— A recent report of inappropriate conduct among students at Steamboat Springs Middle School has prompted a number of questions from parents.

Public school faculty members and officials hope an upcoming public forum alleviates parents' concerns and clears up speculation surrounding the incident.

Steamboat Springs Middle School is hosting a "Parent Forum on Teen Sexuality" from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday in its media center.

"It will be a good night to work with our parents, to answer questions and allay fears," said Ann Keating, a health teacher at the middle school.

Parents of middle school students are invited to listen to a panel of middle and high school counselors and health teachers, a school psychologist, law enforcement, school administrators and members of Advocates Against Battering and Abuse and Steamboat Medical Group.

Keating had previously planned to feature only four people on the panel. When the incident at the middle school occurred, she decided the forum warranted a few more points of view.

"The timing is great," Superintendent Cyndy Simms said. "I expect this year it will be very well attended."

But school officials stressed the forum was not in reaction to the incident and instead presented an opportunity for the community to take a broader look at the issue of teen sexuality.

"It gives us a chance to talk to the parents freely and give them a chance to ask questions," middle school Principal Tim Bishop said. "It's not going to focus on this one incident."

Bishop said public school officials are still interviewing students and parents about a report that something inappropriate happened between a group of boys and a girl last Thursday at the middle school.

"I've come to no conclusion yet," he said. "I'm just trying to be careful and thoughtful in what I do here."

Bishop is hopeful the incident encourages dialogue in the community about the behavioral pressures facing teen-agers.

The problem is not specific to Steamboat Springs, he said.

He wants his students to look at what happened so they don't make the same mistakes.

"As painful as it has been : I want our kids to use it as a learning thing," Bishop said. "We've got to learn from this. We've got to move on."

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