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Utah teacher on leave after asking kids to list genitalia slang

Published April 15, 2014 5:07 pm

Weber High educator used the tactic in an Adult Roles class that offers college credit.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Weber High School teacher has been placed on paid leave after asking her students to name slang for genitalia as part of a lesson.

Teacher Ashley Williams was placed on paid leave Friday after students brought the incident to the attention of school administrators, said Nate Taggart, a Weber District spokesman. The lesson was part of the course Adult Roles and Financial Literacy, a class that offers college credit to high-schoolers through concurrent enrollment,

The district is investigating the incident and will determine what, if any, disciplinary action is warranted, depending on the investigation's outcome.

Matt Ogle, executive director of the Ogden-Weber UniServ, a part of the local teacher's union, said this was the first time Williams had used such a strategy in teaching the lesson. He said she heard of the idea at a Career and Technical Education conference she attended, as part of a table discussion in which teachers shared strategies.

Ogle said Williams doesn't plan to use the technique again in the future.

"She's a very conscientious teacher and cares very much about her students, and I think since this caused a stir, she doesn't want to do something that causes a stir like this," Ogle said.

He called Williams "a teacher who's had a very good track record and will continue to be a very good teacher in the future."

He said he's confident the district will treat Williams fairly.

Attempts to reach Williams for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Taggart said Tuesday, "Regardless of where she learned it, the district feels it was inappropriate."

The course Williams teaches is offered to students as a concurrent enrollment class through Weber State University, meaning students may receive college credit for taking it. At the college level, the course is called Marriage and Family Relations, said Beth Rhoades, concurrent enrollment program administrator at WSU.

She said the curriculum includes teaching the correct terms for anatomy and physiology, but "the instructor does have the academic freedom to teach the course how she desires."

She said, however, "In department trainings, this curriculum is always stressed to be taught with sensitivity for the cultural setting we are in."

Rhoades said Williams has taught the course for about five years, and the university has never had any negative comments about her before. WSU will not take any action regarding Williams as she's not an employee of the university, Rhoades said.