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Cambridge finishes investigating handout

CAMBRIDGE — A high school health teacher remains on paid leave after the completion of an investigation into a presenter’s handout that many parents found objectionable.

“We have completed the investigation and are going to be consulting with our attorney,” Superintendent Vince Canini said Thursday, adding he could not give many details of the case because it is a personnel issue.

The investigation started when students brought the packet home after a presentation on Monday to seventh- and 10th-grade health classes by a representative of the Pride Center of the Capital Region. The representative was scheduled to come back Tuesday, but Canini canceled that visit.

Initially, Canini said a four-page handout had been given to seventh-graders and a 42-page handout to 10th-graders.

But the investigation showed that all students got the 42-page handout, which included more than 200 definitions of terms referencing the LGBTQ community.

The definition list included many standard words, such as transgender, stereotype, sex, gender, homosexual, homophobia, gay, bisexual lesbian and coming out. It also included a large number of terms relating to gender surgery and hormones, some of them specific and scientific.

It also listed a small number of sexually related terms, including top, bottom, bear, pitcher, catcher and fag hag.

“I would like to again stress that the topic of gender identity was never of concern,” Canini said. “The graphic ‘common terms and definitions’ were. The two are totally separate but have been blurred into one, which is not the case.”

Canini said he could not identify the teacher, because of personnel rules, but he confirmed the school has only one health teacher, who is listed as Jacqueline Hall. An attempt to reach her was not successful.

Canini said the school principal, Caroline Goss, was aware of the presentation, but had not seen the handout nor the specifics of the presentation in advance.

Tuesday, the school district sent a letter to parents from Canini and posted it on the district website. The letter states that the speaker was “uninvited” after the packet was reviewed and the teacher had been placed on administrative leave.

Canini said the main point of the investigation was to determine whether the handout had been reviewed before it was given to students.


Local
Supporters worry land bank ballot proposition gets lumped with 'Con con'

Matt Simpson

Supporters of a ballot proposition that would create a “land bank” of state forest preserve land to help municipalities with public works projects are concerned that opposition to a constitutional convention could hurt the proposition’s chances of passing.

The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages sent out a news release this week, seeking to clarify the distinction between the two ballot items and urging voters who oppose a constitutional convention to support the land bank proposal.

The association called the land bank proposition “an ideal example of how a small, well-reasoned, common-sense change can be made to the constitution on a case-by-case basis, without opening the document to a complete overhaul in a convention.”

The land bank and constitutional convention propositions are among three that will be on the back of the ballot in Tuesday’s general election.

The land bank proposal is the third on the back of the ballot. It would allow an amendment to the constitution to add 250 acres of land to the state Forest Preserve and allow communities in the Adirondack and Catskill parks to later use up to 250 acres from the preserve over a period of years to make critical public health and safety infrastructure improvements.

The need to replace Middleton Bridge over the Schroon River in Warren County has been cited as a situation in which the land bank would be a huge help, as the county has been stymied when trying to build a new bridge by the fact that Forest Preserve land lines the river, prevented construction at the preferred site. Exchanging other land for use of the riverbank, as the land bank proposal would allow, would solve the problem.

While the constitutional convention proposition would seek open-ended changes to the constitution, the two ballot items are not related other than by their appearance on the ballot.

But some are worried that voters who don’t take the time to read them will confuse the two.

William Farber, supervisor in the town of Morehouse and chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, said supporters of the land bank are “worried” voters won’t differentiate between the ballot propositions.

“It’s complicated, and there is some confusion,” he said. “Some people think they are related. But they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.”

Horicon Supervisor Matt Simpson, in whose town the replacement bridge would be built, agreed there seems to be “a lot of confusion” over differentiating the two propositions, and that has concerned land bank advocates.

“We have been trying to do a lot of education to let people know the difference between the two propositions dealing with the constitution,” he said.

Polls have shown considerable opposition to a constitutional convention, with many government workers opposing it out of concern their pensions could be changed and environmental groups fretting about rollback of “forever wild” provisions.

The League of Women Voters has pointed out it has found no organized opposition to the land bank proposal.

AATV directed voters to a website set up about the proposition at VoteYesForTheAdirondacks.com.