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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Medical Lake School Board candidates differ on sex ed, religion in the classroom

Two of the 17 candidates vying for Medical Lake School Board positions this year agree on most issues but differ on whether sex education should be taught in schools.

School board position 1 primary candidates Gerri Johnson and Lennelle Spillman both attended Medical Lake High School.

Johnson, a boutique owner, said her experience as president of local nonprofit ReImagine Medical Lake coupled with her background working at a day care would prove useful on the school board.

In her candidate statement, Johnson reported she has nearly 40 years of farm management experience and that she has been self-employed since 2013.

“After COVID, I heard from a lot of families that they were concerned about their kids,” Johnson said. “They were wanting to be more involved. I’m a good liaison.”

Spillman, a children’s pastor with Redemption Church, said her 10 years of experience working different jobs in the Cheney School District has given her an inside look at the heartbeat of local schools.

In her candidate statement, Spillman wrote she has experience working positions including an assistant cook and cashier, instructional para-educator and secretary.

“It’s time for a change,” Spillman said. “I’ve heard a lot of discontent in the community. People want change in the school board.”

When asked in separate interviews what type of change they’d like to see, Johnson and Spillman both said they want the school board to be more transparent.

Spillman also called for curriculum changes. She said she loves U.S. history and believes subjects such as science, language and math should be taught in schools. But other topics, she said, ought to be left out of the classroom.

“There are things that should be a parent’s responsibility to teach at home. Anything of a sexual nature, whether it be sex education or who marriage should be between.”

Johnson said she supports sex education being taught in schools and believes in the separation of church and state.

When asked her opinion of the separation of church and state, Spillman said today’s interpretation of the phrase is “backwards.”

Both candidates said they are supporters of Second Amendment rights but believe gun control laws should be heightened to keep firearms out of schools. Johnson and Spillman both said they support bans on assault rifles and do not think teachers should be armed with guns.

The candidate elected for position 1 will serve a two-year term on the Medical Lake School Board.

Position 1 candidate Bryan Musser did not respond to a request for an interview.