May School Board Elections Could Change Policies in NCSD


School Board meeting erupts with concerned parents.


Many of the most ardent and vocal audience members at the North Clackamas School District board meetings over the past two years have registered to run for the school board election on May 16. Some of the job functions of a school board member include having the authority to make or change policies, have executive or administrative authority, and judicial authority. Board members decide on the policies that would be expected to be implemented by the Superintendent and district staff.  The candidates who are running for this election are Angela Peterson, Tara Nelson, and Aimee Reiner. They are joined by Courtneigh Swerzbin in running a joint campaign hoping to change some district policies.   Jena Benologa, a current NCSD Board member, is running for re-election.  She is supporting candidates Glenn Wachter, Paul Kemp, and April Dobson.

In late October, the North Clackamas School Board made the decision to hold board meetings online due to safety concerns prompted, in part, by the outbursts of parents who were in the audience in the District office. Some parents attended and expressed concern about the district’s school libraries containing sex-positive and LGBTQ+-friendly books. These concerns have been brought up at almost every school board meeting for nearly two years. Many Christian, or conservative-leaning parents, have also voiced that they have felt discriminated against or harassed for their ideals. 

Some of the literature in North Clackamas’ school libraries contain criteria that have left some parents concerned. The library books that have caused alarm are one’s that mention sexual assault, sex, and LGBTQ+ representation. Many have referred to these books as “pornographic”, and some have criticized the system that allows parents to opt-out their children from checking out certain books. They question what stops their children from obtaining one of those books from a classmate, even if their child is in the opt-out program. They fear that the contents of these books will hurt their children and possibly traumatize them.  

During a board meeting on October 27, 2022,  audience members erupted with vocal outrage at the amount of time given to speak during the public comments section of the meeting. Michael Corbus, who was one of the parents speaking at that meeting, showed posters with comments made towards his high school son Levi and daughter Kylie. Mr. Corbus has brought the concerns up during several board meetings. The comments he was referring to were reportedly made by students in response to a video that Levi had produced and shared on his public Instagram account.

Levi Corbus is a senior at Rex Putnam High School. He posted a video on his Instagram explaining what he believes God thinks about the LGBTQ+ community. In the video, he explains that being homosexual or being a part of the LGBTQ+ is a sin. He states, “Yeah being gay is a sin, but it’s all the same like if you repent and are washed clean by the blood of Jesus, you are saved”. The video got some backlash online but fellow students, but according to Levi, this wasn’t unexpected. 

Levi is the head of a Christian club at Rex Putnam High School called “The Jesus Movement”. Levi’s brother Ezekiel, who graduated in 2020 from Rex Putnam started the club, but it was shut down due to Covid-19. When in-person school resumed, Levi brought back the club saying it was different than it was before. Covid restrictions forced him to make adjustments, and it has remained the same since. Levi has become well-known in the Putnam High community for spreading the gospel and often receives combative responses to his posts on his beliefs. Some of the hate has been directed toward his sister Kylie, who is disabled. He says, “it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that when I share the gospel and preach about Jesus people hate me and don’t like me. I don’t mind”. 

Mr. Corbus addressed the reported harassment of his children during multiple school board meetings, often referring to the haters as “LGBTQ+ activist bullies”, or “LGBTQ+ bigoted bullies”.  Felix Kayser, another student at Rex Putnam has spoken out about what he and some classmates think about parents speaking against the LGBTQ+ community and the school board. He says, “A lot of what they say at these meetings lacks evidence, context, or is straight-up false”. Felix has often been an advocate for students who feel too scared to speak out and encourages his peers to make their voices heard. A few weeks ago, he posted a video on his public Instagram page motivating students to join him in speaking at the next board meeting. He hoped that if enough students joined, there wouldn’t be enough time for the adults to speak. Felix said, “I don’t think they realize that repeatedly saying the same things at board meetings for months is redundant and wasteful of the board’s time. I was advocating for new voices to be heard, and old voices, at least for one meeting, to be quiet.” 

   It will be up to voters in the North Clackamas School District to decide who will be representing them on the district school board in May.