Utah education news

National advocate wary as Utah advocates propose increasing confidentiality for student sex assault victims

Some sexual assault victims on college campuses choose not to report to their schools, advocate Turner Bitton said, for fear that their name and other identifying information will be shared publicly. In fact, 21 percent of about 1,500 victims polled by the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault — of which Bitton is the executive director — said they did not report “due to concerns of confidentiality.” This legislative session, Bitton hopes to remove that barrier with a measure sponsored by Rep. A...

Museum's DinoFest2017 weekend to highlight Utah fossil fame

Paleontologist Lindsay Zanno spends much of her summer in remote southern Utah deserts, using brushes, picks, trowels and sometimes jack hammers to liberate 90-million-year-old bones from ancient sediments in a quest to identify new species of gigantic extinct reptiles and determine how they lived. Utah is justly famous for dinosaur bones from various geological eras, including those familiar characters of the Jurassic, but Zanno is most interested in species unknown to science, many found in Ut... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senator Dabakis: Tax the rich to fund schools

The Our Schools Now ballot initiative is working to lift Utah’s income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, a shift that would raise $750 million for public education. But one lawmaker says the problem isn’t that the tax rate is too low, the problem is that it is too flat. Before asking all Utahns to pay a higher rate, Salt Lake City Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis said, the state should turn to its wealthy citizens to fund schools. “That great sucking sound you heard is money flying out of ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

New USU campaign urges bystanders to step in and prevent sex assault

Utah State University is asking students to intervene to prevent sexual assault and support victims. Starting Jan. 30, students will be asked to sign a pledge to that effect — either in person or online — as part of stepped-up efforts to raise awareness on the issue. “By involving students as engaged bystanders, we can create an environment in which sexual assault is intolerable and survivors are supported by everyone,” USU President Noelle Cockett said Tuesday in a news release. In conjunction... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Most Utahns support tax hike that would raise $750 million for schools, poll shows

Utahns won’t vote on a proposed income tax increase to fund schools until 2018 — if ever — but a new poll suggests organizers of the Our Schools Now ballot initiative are starting out in the lead. A recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics survey of 605 registered voters found 55 percent in favor of the measure, which would raise $750 million for public schools by bumping Utah’s income tax rate up from 5 percent to 5.875 percent. The initiative was opposed by 41 percent of respon...

Utah universities to track student sexual misconduct across campuses, boost campus surveys

A student could commit sexual misconduct at more than one Utah university without the schools spotting a pattern — because they weren’t required to share information. Some Utah universities have asked students to evaluate campus safety and attitudes in climate surveys, but others haven’t. On Friday, the Utah Board of Regents approved a policy meant to standardize and strengthen how the state’s colleges and universities address campus sexual assault, requiring stepped-up training, information-sha...

App rewards students for ignoring their phones

Distracted students are nothing new, according to West High School Assistant Principal Christine Pittam. But distractions evolve over time, she said, shifting from Walkmans to MP3 players, from analog to digital. “It used to be that kids would pass notes,” Pittam said. “Now it’s cellphones. They’re texting.” Reactions from educators have evolved as well. Last year, a teacher at West High might have confiscated a student’s smartphone, Pittam said. But, as of last week, the school is promoting...

Crowd unanimously asks Utah Board of Education to repeal student-athlete transfer rule

Robert McDaniel said Thursday that when he became principal of Cyprus High School three years ago, he inherited a school with low test scores, poor attendance and below-average graduation rates. It later dawned on him, McDaniel said, that most of his faculty, students and parents didn’t care about hats. “I started focusing on what Cyprus High School should have been focusing on,” he said, “preparing our students for college and career opportunities.” McDaniel’s comments were directed toward the ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

BYU president defends new hires in school's sexual-assault overhaul

Brigham Young University President Kevin Worthen is defending recent hires made by the school to improve its handling of sexual assault complaints, saying the women are prepared for the work, will receive continued training and will be joined by a new colleague from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS. Last week, BYU announced the hiring of two university employees — Tiffany Turley and Lisa Leavitt — as its new Title IX coordinator and victim advocate, respectively. A group of sexu...

Shadow of Trump inauguration looms over U. speech by author Ta-Nehisi Coates

The keynote speaker for the University of Utah’s weeklong celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. began his remarks Wednesday by commenting on a Twitter scuffle between a celebrity and a congressman. Award-winning author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates referred to comedian Rob Schneider, who took to the social media platform on Monday — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — to critique a statement by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, that Donald Trump is not a “legitimate” president. “Rep. Lewis. You are a...

Utah school board to hear feedback on new transfer rules for high school athletes

Opponents of a new transfer policy for high school student athletes will have another chance to make their case before the Utah Board of Education. The board announced Tuesday that a hearing will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to receive feedback on the policy, which allows students to switch schools — and school teams — at will if they compete at the sub-varsity level. Varsity athletes can switch schools freely if they also switch sports, the policy states, and can compete in the same sport if... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

BYU sexual-assault survivors, alumni upset with Title IX, victim advocate choices

When Hailey Allen heard last week that Tiffany Turley was named Brigham Young University’s new Title IX coordinator, she began to sob. Her anxiety skyrocketed, she said, and the post-traumatic stress disorder she said she suffers as a result of being raped as a student at the university was triggered. “I felt they had lied to us,” Allen said. “Given us hope that they would change their ways and then didn’t.” Allen and about 30 other alumni and sexual assault survivors are concerned that Turley ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

There's a big gap between Utah's richest and poorest schools. Lawmaker hopes to close it.

Utah has long ranked last in the nation for the amount it spends, on a per-student basis, to support public schools. But there’s another set of disparities in state school funding, because school districts supplement their budgets with revenues from local property taxes. An area such as Park City, with a comparably small student population and high property values, can generate more than three times as much tax revenue per student as Jordan School District, despite similar property tax rates. ...

School board member: program for failing schools is $8 million in the red

In 2015, Utah lawmakers set aside $7 million in annual funding to establish a new turnaround program for struggling public schools. That money is gone, state school board member Joel Wright said Friday, and the program is facing a negative balance as new schools are added to the turnaround list each year. “We have exceeded that by about $8 million,” said Wright, who is vice-chairman of the board’s Finance Committee. “Nobody knew what they were doing entirely when they made these contracts with... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

BYU appoints new Title IX coordinator, victim advocate

Tiffany Turley’s main goal as Brigham Young University’s new Title IX coordinator is simple: create an environment where students feel able to report sexual assaults. “The safety and well-being of students is definitely my primary concern,” said Turley, 35, who previously served as the university’s Women’s Services and Resources manager. On Friday, BYU announced that Turley would oversee the school’s Title IX office, tasked with implementing the federal law that requires university’s to swifty r...

Utah State denies it knew about multiple reported sex assaults, asks for lawsuit to be dismissed

Utah State University is asking for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a former student who accuses school officials of not taking action to prevent her sexual assault. Victoria Hewlett sued the Logan school in November, claiming that when she was raped in July 2015 by Jason Relopez at the Sigma Chi fraternity house, school officials knew that five other women had already reported being sexually assaulted by him. The university is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed with prejudice, denying b...

USU's Torrey Green sex-assault investigation records could be made public

Utah’s Records Committee will take until February to determine if a 2-inch stack of documents prepared by a Utah State University attorney should be made public. The documents, generated during an internal investigation into a series of sexual assault allegations against former USU student Torrey Green, were sought by The Salt Lake Tribune under the state’s Government Records Access Management Act. But while committee members voted to postpone that decision Thursday morning, they indicated that...

After School Satan Club launches at Vista Elementary School in Taylorsville

Taylorsville • Utah’s first After School Satan Club kicked off with an open house Wednesday at Vista Elementary School. The club, for children between the ages of 5 and 12, encourages students to think critically and have a scientific understanding of the world around them, according to Chalice Blythe, Utah chapter head for The Satanic Temple. “Kids naturally have that ability to be curious and question things,” Blythe said. “We’re basically just saying we should bolster that.” The Salem, Mass...

Rich School District classes and meetings canceled

Rich School District has canceled all classes and school meetings for Wednesday. An announcement from the district — which has been hit by a snowstorm — says college classes will continue and that “if parents choose to send their kids, the building and programming will be available.” <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Mountain climber Conrad Anker to speak at U. commencement

Renowned mountaineer and University of Utah alumnus Conrad Anker will address graduates at the school’s commencement ceremony on May 4. Anker was a founding member of The North Face Climbing Team and was part of the first successful ascent of the Shark’s Fin route of Meru Peak in Northern India. Anker and his Shark’s Film team were featured in the 2015 documentary film “Meru,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. His work with The North Face began while Anker was a student at the Uni...