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ACLU of Oregon finds North Bend principal's move to middle school 'troubling'

(File/SBG photo)

NORTH BEND, Ore. - An attorney with the ACLU of Oregon voiced concern Tuesday over news that the principal of North Bend High School would become the vice principal at North Bend Middle School.

The ACLU worked with two students to reach an agreement in May with the school district on allegations of discrimination against LGBTQ students at the school.

Part of the agreement called for Principal Bill Lucero to be removed from his position at the school.

On Monday, the North Bend School District announced that Lucero would be the vice principal at the middle school next year.

“It is troubling that people with a clear track record of violating students rights will remain in positions of power in the district," said Kelly Simon, staff attorney with ACLU of Oregon. "It is also concerning that district still has not acknowledged the harms they have caused our clients and other LGBTQ students in North Bend. Administrators and students in North Bend should know that the ACLU of Oregon will closely monitor the implementation of the settlement to ensure that students do not continue to face discrimination.”

Two students took their complaints to the State of Oregon, alleging the school officials didn't take action to stop the harassment.

Another student, who identifies as bisexual, was forced to read the Bible at school as punishment, according to the ACLU of Oregon.

"We saw a clear pattern of discrimination against LGBTQ students for different treatment," Mat Dos Santos, legal director for the ACLU of Oregon, said in May, "and we also saw a clear violation of the First Amendment, the establishment clause which says that there should be separation between church and state."

The Oregon Department of Education had urged the district to resolve the issues.

"With respect to the District treating students differently on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, there is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the District subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment," the state wrote in a March letter to the district. "There is also substantial evidence to support the allegation that the use of a Bible to discipline students had a chilling effect on LGBTQ students' use of the District's complaint process."

"The Department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred," a state official wrote to the district superintendent in March.

When it didn't take action, the state scheduled a hearing on the issue.

But the ACLU helped the students reach an agreement with the district that resolved the situation.

At a going away assembly at the school, Lucero said "people who have been at our school know what the truth is and that speaks for itself."


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