Lawson Admits Not Vetting WAHS Family Life Materials, Steps Down as Interim Dept. Chair

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The man who failed to vet controversial sex education materials at Western Albemarle High School is taking responsibility in a five-paragraph letter sent to Western Albemarle families late Friday.    

In April, Frank Lawson, the head of the WAHS physical education department, approved new materials from the Sexual Assault Resource Agency for Western's Family Life classes. Included in those materials was a pair of controversial videos by Laci Green about male pleasure and female orgasm.

More than two dozen students saw the videos. Lawson, a 28-year veteran, said he assumed curriculum changes from the Sexual Assault Resource Agency were not major.   

In the letter, Lawson says its best that he no longer serves as the interim department chair, but he looks forward to his return to the school on June 4. The full letter is included below.

Western Albemarle High School Message to Parents:

Dear Western Families,

I wanted to provide you a copy of a letter from Frank Lawson, Western Albemarle Instructor, that he wanted to share with members of our community based on recent incidents that have impacted our school and students.  This situation has been very difficult for many people and I know that we will continue to work hard to improve the work we do at the school and for our kids.   -D.Bonham

From Frank Lawson:

"Last month, an educator from the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) showed inappropriate videos in two of our Family Life classes at Western Albemarle High School. This event has caused a great deal of concern and stress within our community.

For close to 20 years, SARA has been a trusted resource for WAHS. During those years, SARA’s presentations have been unfailingly consistent with our Family Life curriculum. Based on this long-standing and trusting relationship, I routinely communicated with them setting up times, dates, and content for their visits. Because of this history and SARA’s trusted educational resources, I regrettably did not pre-screen their most recently provided material.  To all individuals offended by these videos, I hope you will accept my sincere apology.

As SARA noted in their April 30th statement, their presentation to 28 students in our Family Life classes did not meet our school division’s curriculum standards. These videos were not age appropriate and not consistent with our standards. I would like to express my deep regret that a conversation between SARA and me about these videos did not take place prior to their use, and my deeper regret that this material was presented to a wonderful group of students who deserve a healthy, productive, and appropriate learning environment.  In no way would I have approved this material to be shown to the Family Life classes, as it is not compliant with the approved Family Life curriculum and it is inappropriate for a given audience.

I take responsibility for not vetting this material. In the past, when SARA brought a new concept/pilot program to WAHS, we held an in-person meeting to discuss the changes.  Unfortunately, that was not offered this year, and I wrongly assumed that no major changes had been made.   Preserving the positivity, impact, and efficacy of the Family Life curriculum is of utmost importance to me, therefore, I believe it is best that I no longer serve as the interim department chair.

It has and continues to be a privilege to serve the students and families at Western these past 28 years. I have been truly blessed to have a job where I am surrounded daily with students that have a wonderful exuberance for life and their future. This incident has been difficult but has highlighted for me the importance of careful and diligent attention to details. In addition, I’m deeply grateful to the many members of our community for their support and understanding these past few weeks.  I look forward to returning to Western on June 4."

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