Charge in Starry incident brings change to MHS Volunteer program

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A 15-year-old Marion High School student was arrested last Tuesday and charged with three counts of 2nd degree sexual abuse after the Marion police were contacted by a staff member at Starry Elementary regarding the volunteer inappropriately touching a student.

The male student was taken to the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center.

The accused student took part in the high school volunteer program, so many are wondering how this impacts the school’s policies.

Due to this situation, the volunteer program has been examined and re-evaluated, but the school still feels strongly about keeping it in place. Principal Greg Semler explains, “We reviewed everything, our practice and protocol, and moving forward we feel confident with our program.”

The volunteer program is experiencing some new policies and ways students become involved. “We’re having applications and we’re going to send the names of students to teachers to see if there’s any red flags. We’ll look over what teachers said, and the students’ past protocol, and if there are any those students won’t be able to participate. Then I’ll sit down with each student and have them sign a contract,” said Marion High School Guidance Counselor Ann Grant.

Volunteering at the elementary schools has been a great way for students to get involved, and Semler believes it will continue to be just that. “At this point, there are so many great kids with great character so I don’t think this will change the landscape of things or who we are and what we do. It’s a great program and has been for 35 years,” said Semler.

While the volunteer program will continue to provide great help to other school in the district, Semler does feel sorry for the current circumstance.

“We do feel bad for any kid affected. We do feel deep regret and sadness. We don’t want any kids in our district to feel hurt or scared,” said Semler.

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