Bainbridge Island Schools: Youth pastors were not preaching at school

by: David Ham Updated:

Bainbridge Island - After a two month investigation, Bainbridge Island Schools said three youth pastors who were also volunteers at Woodward Middle School were not preaching to or recruiting students.

An attorney hired by the district said in the report that as a whole, the youth pastors volunteering in the lunch room did not use their time and access to students to promote religion or convert students to their faith.

Danny Smith was a volunteer at Woodward Middle School for three years.

When we interviewed him in October he said, "My purpose is to just be with these kids and make them feel valued and to help our community."

He said he never tried to recruit students at Woodward Middle School.

The investigation did find that there were two instances in which the youth pastors invited students to off-campus religious activities. They were also students the youth pastors knew.

"If they know them personally, then that's okay; if they were recruiting, I do find that to be a problem," said Laurel, who has an 8th grade daughter at Woodward Middle School.

Superintendent Faith Chapel did not answer any questions about the report but sent this statement saying, "The report sheds light on the fact that we have some gaps in our volunteer policies and procedures that caused some students and parents to feel uncomfortable and for that, we are sorry."

Because of the investigation, the district said that volunteers will not be allowed to assist during lunch time.

Only paid staff members will be allowed to work as monitors.

The district will also review how it screens volunteers for other programs.

The school board met with parents Tuesday evening to go over the findings of the investigation and get input to revise the volunteer policy district wide.

The board will announce any changes to the policy at its next meeting December 12th at 5:30 p.m.

Here’s a link to the report: