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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beaverton student teacher can return to his classroom

By Wendy Owen-

Former Beaverton student teacher Seth Stambaugh can return to Sexton Mountain Elementary.

The Beaverton School District and Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education leaders announced this afternoon that they jointly agreed to return Stambaugh to his original student teaching placement in Beaverton starting late next week, according to a press release from both schools. "We are moving forward with our common values and principles of equity, respect and inclusion," according to the press release.

Stambaugh was celebrating privately with family and friends and was not available for comment, but his attorney Lake Perriguey said Stambaugh has already accepted the offer.

"He was joyous and really ready to get back in that classroom," he said.

Stambaugh made headlines in early October after claiming the district discriminated against him for telling a student he was gay.

In September, Stambaugh told a fourth-grader who asked whether he was married that he was not. When the student asked why, Stambaugh replied it was not legal for him to get married because he would choose a man.

The student then asked, "Does that mean you like to hang out with other guys?" and Stambaugh responded yes, Perriguey said.

The parent of a student, who overheard the conversation, complained, Perriguey said, and district administrators asked Stambaugh's advisers at Lewis & Clark College to find him another school. Stambaugh is currently at a school in Portland. 

The district's decision was based on 23-year-old Stambaugh's "professional judgment" and on the age-appropriateness of the conversation with the 9-year-old student, said Maureen Wheeler, district spokeswoman.

Last week, Superintendent Jerry Colonna said there has been a lot of "hurt and pain that has come forward as a result of this by our gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual staff and students and community members and many, many others who see schools as a place of tolerance and social justice."

Colonna said the district will take steps to "repair relationships, rebuild trust, learn from the issue and listen."

The decision follows a private meeting today of Colonna and his adminstrative team with Lewis & Clark representatives as well as a letter writing campaign from Sexton Mountain teachers and parents who asked that Stambaugh be reinstated.

It may not be over yet. Perriguey said questions still remain about the process the district initially followed.

"It looks like a decision was made on a dime and it took six weeks to do the right thing," he said.


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