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Concerns raised over medicine cabinet-related homework assignment

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MAPLETON, Utah County — What’s in your medicine cabinet? It's a pretty personal question, but that was the assignment students in one health class at Mapleton Junior High School brought home.

Concerns were raised when a copy of the assignment started circulating on social media websites. Nebo School District officials said not only was the assignment a violation of privacy, but also state HIPPA laws.

"This was an innocent mistake," said Lana Hiskey with Nebo School District. "It was part of a health unit. (The teacher) wanted parents to know how to clean their medicine cabinets."

At the top of the assignment, it explained how a major reason for drug abuse in Utah County is people aren’t safely disposing of medications.

The instructions then ask students to go home, look in their medicine cabinets and report back medication names, what the medication is being used for and if it’s still being used.

"(Teachers) create their own lesson plans every day, so something like this can slip through without someone else knowing it," Hiskey said.

Hiskey describes the first-year teacher who assigned the project as someone who teaches with enthusiasm and wanted to send home meaningful homwork.

This was an innocent mistake. It was part of a health unit. (The teacher) wanted parents to know how to clean their medicine cabinets.

–Lana Hiskey, Nebo School District

"We want all parents to know this is not an acceptable assignment," she added.

As a copy of the assignment made the rounds on social media, it caught the attention of Deidre Henderson, State Senator for the 7th District in South Utah County.

"They're attaching drug abuse with, 'Hey, tell us all the prescription drugs you may be on,' " Henderson said. "There is a shame and a stigma that is attached to that for kids who may be taking prescription medications."

Henderson agrees there is a prescription drug abuse problem in Utah County, and it’s important to educate teens about it, but this assignment just missed the mark.

"So this is a health teacher with good intentions, really well-meaning, but misguided in what she thought was appropriate in an assignment given to kids," Henderson said.

At one point, a copy of the assignment was posted to the Facebook group Utahns Against Common Core. It led some to believe the assignment was part of new common core standards. Hiskey said that is not true and health classes aren't even part of common core curriculum.

Nebo School District said they’ve met with both the teacher and concerned parents, and they’re confident an assignment like this won’t be sent home again.


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Ashley Kewish


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