District committed to music program


Last updated 4/2/2024 at 12:55pm

Sisters High School will continue its vocal music program, even as teacher Rick Johnson has been placed on leave while the Sisters School District looks into concerns about a potentially inappropriate text exchange with a former student. The student is believed to have been 17 at the time of the exchange.

“That’s our next conversation,” Superintendent Curt Scholl told The Nugget. “Our intent is to still run the program. We want to, as much as possible, limit impact on any of our students. That’s our goal.”

Johnson taught choir and the Americana Project programs. The choir traditionally serves the community a spring performance, and Scholl said he believes they have at least one music festival on the calendar. The hope is to enable the students to go ahead with planned events.

Accompanist Julie Cash and the students of the program are highly engaged, but classes must have a licensed teacher present. Because events occurred over spring break, Scholl said the district has not been able to determine exactly how securing a substitute will proceed. If the situation is protracted, the district will seek to find a substitute with appropriate music background, Scholl explained. In the immediate moment, that may not be possible. Initially, a “general substitute” may be brought in.

However, Scholl said, “we’ll have coverage and support, for sure.”

SFF Presents, the umbrella organization of Sisters Folk Festival, has partnered for decades with the school district to support the Americana Project, which promotes songwriting and performance. SFF Presents Executive Director Crista Munro told The Nugget that the organization has no formal role in personnel decisions in the district.

SFF Presents is, however, ready to provide support for the maintenance and continuation of the program.

“Once we have a clear picture of how Sisters School District is going to handle staffing of that classroom, we’ll sit down and talk about how we can help keep that program on track, both short- and long-term,” Munro said.

As is standard practice as a mandatory reporter, Scholl referred the matter, which arose with the posting of the text exchange on social media on March 25, to Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC).

Melissa Goff, interim executive director of TSPC, confirmed on Monday that there is an active investigation underway.

“Other than confirmation of an active investigation, TSPC is unable to comment on any cases until they reach completion,” she said.

Lt. Chad Davis of the Sisters substation of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office could not discuss the particulars of the matter at hand, but he explained how DCSO approaches the investigation of concerns raised in any context.

“When we receive information from citizens regarding a suspected crime or possible crime, we begin investigating by contacting witnesses, potential victims, reviewing any evidence or documentation from the incident in order to determine if a crime occurred or not,” Lt. Davis said. “We document the investigation by preparing a police report and gathering evidence. Evidence can be in several forms such as video recordings, audio recordings, physical evidence (DNA), digital photographs, and statements. If a crime has occurred and we can determine who the suspect is, we locate the suspect and attempt to interview them. If there is probable cause to make an arrest, then we may make a physical custody arrest, issue a criminal citation in lieu of custody, or refer the case to the District Attorney for review. The District Attorney may refer the case to the Grand Jury for their review. If the suspect is charged, then the case will proceed through the criminal justice process.”

DCSO can only take action if they find evidence that a crime has been committed.

“We take enforcement action when laws have been violated, and don’t have any ability or authority to take action on behavior that some citizens would deem inappropriate,” Davis said.

Citizens are always welcome to provide further information that could be relevant to an investigation, even if there is no initial law enforcement action taken.

“If a case is opened and determined there is no crime, it will be closed,” Davis explained. “If new information is received, the case can be re-opened and the investigation can continue on from there.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.


Reader Comments(0)


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Https://www.nuggetnews.com/home/cms Data/dfault/images/masthead 260x100
Sisters Oregon Guide
Spirit Of Central Oregon
Spirit Youtube
Nugget Youtube

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024