The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 4, 2014

Parent: Shikellamy sex-ed class went out of bounds

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — A Shikellamy High School teacher was told by administrators to control her classroom after a sex education class went out of bounds and drew complaints from a concerned parent.

About a month ago, an 11th-grade student came home from school and told his father about a raunchy classroom discussion on sexual practices

During a health class on the human anatomy, teacher Diane Miller asked students to write down five slang terms for both male and female anatomical characteristics, the Shikellamy junior told his father.

“Some of the kids wrote down silly names, and I wasn’t really concerned with what he was telling me until he said the class had an open discussion,” said the parent, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his child. “I was in total shock.”

The boy told his father that students began giving descriptive sexual acts and the teacher allowed the open discussion to continue, he said.

“When I started asking what was said, I couldn’t even believe what I was hearing,” the parent said.

The concerned father said he was more disgusted the teacher did not stop the discussion once it turned from lessons to lewd terminology. “I mean common sense would say that a teacher should know better,” he said. “I am frustrated and disgusted that this would happen.”

The student’s father said he called high school Principal Ernie Jackson the next day. Jackson told the man he would conduct an investigation.

“I haven’t heard anything from him in three weeks now,” the parent said. “I don’t want to be one of those people who get a lawyer to pursue this but, I mean, come on, this was uncalled for and I want to keep my kid away from that sort of stuff and here he is learning it during class.”

Jackson, on Tuesday, acknowledged the incident but referred all questions to district Superintendent Pat Kelley.

Kelley, when contacted Tuesday was not aware the incident took place and asked for time to research what had happened.

In the meantime, district Director of Education Abbey Walshaw-Wertz said she was made aware of the incident by Jackson.

Kelley then returned a phone call later in the day Tuesday and said he spoke with Jackson and the teacher was told about the language of the lesson plan but that no sexual discussions took place.

“That is absolutely not part of the curriculum,” Walshaw-Wertz said Tuesday. “The teacher was told to never let this happen again.”

Walshaw-Wertz said Jackson called her about the incident but was unsure who complained to the first-year principal.

“I was not made aware of that,” she said. “If a parent made the complaint then he should have gotten back to him after he had answers to what had happened.”

School director Tom Michaels agreed with Walshaw-Wertz.

“No administrator told me about this,” he said. “From what I am learning and to the best of my knowledge this was taken care of before it made it to the board. But I will say if a parent was left waiting for an answer then I will look into it and make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Teacher Diane Miller did not return a phone call seeking comment or context.

n Email comments to