KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Middle school hosted ‘disturbing’ licking game with staff and students

Apr 16, 2023, 4:57 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2023, 4:30 pm

middle school...

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

A middle school principal is facing discipline for an inappropriate, “sexualized” licking game between students and staff.

Before students left for spring break, Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick hosted an assembly and fundraiser that featured a competition between students and staff. Two plexiglass panes were stationed in the middle of the gymnasium and each side of the glass had four spots of marshmallow cream. Students and staff then competed to lick it off the plexiglass, often with adult educators and their minor students licking their respective sides of the glass at once. Students in the crowd could be heard screaming, “ew,” “disgusting,” “that’s so gross,” and “what the heck?” One student yelled, “who thought that this was a good idea?”

One student recorded a portion of the game. The student’s mom posted it on Facebook and shared it with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. She explained that she was “baffled” that so many adults at the school didn’t realize how inappropriate the game was.

“When I first saw the video I was mortified,” the mom told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “The pure lack of judgment was horrifying by the display of behavior from the trusted adults in the room. What got me even more upset was when I saw the principal laughing and then pulling his phone out to videotape or take pictures of the event. He seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the game, instead of protecting our children and stopping the game.”

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The ‘concerning’ game

Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce sent a letter to families once she had become aware of the game.

“This activity does not reflect the high standards we hold for our staff members as outlined in district policy,” she wrote. “The content of a video being shared on social media is highly concerning, and the situation is currently being investigated by the district.”

Pierce said they received a number of concerns from parents and that “we can assure you we are taking appropriate actions to address the situation.”

A second parent tells me that one of the educators seen licking the glass is a vice principal and that principal Casey Gant is seen filming the game in the student’s video.

‘Some students felt very uncomfortable’

On April 14, the superintendent followed up to say “the activity involving students and staff competing in a race to lick marshmallow crème from plexiglass was not an appropriate activity.” She revealed that “some students felt very uncomfortable, and the activity was highly disturbing for some students, parents, families, and community members to watch on video.” She said the district never approved the activity and vowed it “will never be repeated in the future.”

Some parents and community members thought this was potentially an example of left-wing educators “grooming” young students because of the sexual nature of the game. But the superintendent said that wasn’t the case.

“While there is no question about the appropriateness of the activity and its negative impact, after thoroughly investigating how and why this particular activity took place, it is clear that the intent of the activity was innocent and not ill-intended,” Pierce wrote. “There is zero evidence to suggest or support that this was in any way ‘grooming’ activity on the part of organizers or participants. That being said, the fact that the activity was planned, occurred, and not stopped, shows a lack of sound discernment and good judgement [sic], and the activity is not aligned with district expectations.”

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The apology and punishment

Principal Grant offered a statement in the letter to parents where he apologized.

“On behalf of Desert Hills Middle School, I would like to apologize for the activity that took place during our recent assembly,” he wrote. “As building principal, I take ownership for the events that occur in my school, and I recognize the impact that this situation has had on our school community. I am committed to the safety of our students and staff and will ensure that all future activities meet the highest professional standards and adhere to district policy. Again, I apologize that this incident occurred and for the negativity brought to the Desert Hills community.”

Dr. Pierce revealed that she is taking “corrective measures” but that, “Due to confidentiality with respect to personnel matters, no further details regarding corrective personnel actions will be shared.”

“In my opinion, we do not send our children to school to be exposed to highly sexualized behavior by adults,” the mom explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “We send them to school to learn and for them to socialize with other people their ages. They shouldn’t have to sit in a gym for a school assembly and wonder ‘what is going on.’ Schools should be a safe place for children to go and this despicable display of adult behavior was hard to watch.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Middle school hosted ‘disturbing’ licking game with staff and students