To the editor:
Your article about the Woodward investigation cost completely omits significant findings from the investigator’s report. The article focuses solely on the findings that the three youth pastors were not proselytizing in the lunchroom. These findings are stated near the beginning of the report. The research for your article seems to have stopped there.
Reading the report further down, the investigator states: “I find that youth pastors invited some students to off campus religious activities ... during the lunchroom supervision period” and “I find there is evidence that Pastors A and C also directly invited students who were not members of these Pastor’s churches to attend off campus youth group activities. This direct invitation appears to have occurred several times.” Later, she reports that Pastor C sat with a group of girls at lunch and inquired about their social and dating lives, and then proceeded to bring a boy to the table and sit him next to one of the girls, making her feel uncomfortable.
I find it extremely disturbing that in the lunchroom, unbeknownst to parents, these volunteers have been inviting children to off-campus activities and have been inquiring about the social and dating lives of teenage girls. The Bainbridge Island School District Volunteer Handbook (see the district website) states that volunteers must neither initiate social activities with students nor initiate conversation of a personal nature with students. Clearly, inviting kids off campus and inquiring about their love lives violates these requirements, and is highly inappropriate on many levels.
It is important to note that the parents who initially inquired about these volunteers never questioned or suspected that they were “using their volunteer time at the school to convert students,” as your article states. Rather, they asked questions about what role these three youth pastors were playing in the lunchroom every week, as well as about why they were present at school registration and school dances, all without notification to parents. The Woodward investigation confirms key concerns that some of the volunteers’ interactions with students were inappropriate and in violation of the volunteer policy, and that their motivations extended beyond merely cleaning tables in the lunchroom.