District Responds To Social Media Outrage Over Survey

Bourbon Middle School Principal Brian Witt issued a statement Friday after social media outrage erupted over the Missouri Student Survey, otherwise known as the Safe and Drug-Free Schools survey.

The survey has been given to students sixth grade and up in even-numbered years since 2000. The survey is anonymous and students are not asked to identify themselves, Witt’s statement said.

The information collected is used by the Department of Mental Health, which includes questions about alcohol, tobacco, drug use and other behaviors.

The survey also included two questions about gender identity and sexual preference.

Witt said schol districts are not provided with the survey questions prior to administration and students were told they did not have to answer any questions that made them feel uncomfortable or they did not want to answer.

When he was made aware of the questions, Witt said he contacted the Department of Mental Health and asked for removal. The department responded by removing the questions from the survey.

Witt said parents and guardians will be notified prior to the administration of the survey. Due to the change in format, Witt said the district will be diligent in a request to review any future survey content from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Missouri Department of Health.

Witt apologized for any upset it caused.

DESE sent an administrative memo in November, asking districts to collect data from at least one classroom per grade. DESE said the survey “is a valuable tool to learn more about students’ tobacco, drug and alcohol use, as well as bullying, mental health and other information.”

Results are used to plan prevention activities and provide information necessary for grant applications.

All previous questionnaires and reports at the Missouri Department of Health’s website at dmh.mo.gov/ada/rpts/survey.html.

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