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North Bend Schools face state scrutiny over alleged treatment of LGBTQ students

North Bend High School (File/SBG photo)

NORTH BEND, Ore. - From the outside, this looks like any other day at North Bend High School.

But for some people in the community, there's a rising tide of anger and confusion.

"I think it's really embarrassing," Sayana Marie Phillips said of the allegations that high school official discriminated against LGBTQ students. "I think that Coos County is a super diverse county. Typically, we're known as a community that supports each other, and I think it's embarrassing that we took a step back."

The alleged discrimination is outlined in letters from the Oregon Department of Education to the superintendent of the North Bend School District.

Three students came forward with allegations starting back in 2016, according to the letters. The identities of the students have not been released.

One of them reported being forced to read the Bible as punishment for their sexual orientation.

And two female students - who, the letters say, were dating at some point - say they faced discrimination after reporting harassment and bullying at school.

The state concluded its letter saying that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation may have occurred at the school.

The revelations have left some people feeling let down.

"Really disappointed that the students had to put up with that behavior from adults," said Judy Rocha.

"It felt like we were moving backwards," said Jeffrey Severson. "Why is this an issue in today's society?"

The North Bend School District responded to the state, saying "the alleged events occured over the course of several years, most of which had not been brought to the district's attention" and that "the district works hard to treat students with respect."

The state urged the district to mediate an agreement with one of the students within 30 days.

That time came and passed without action.

Now the district faces a special administrative hearing in North Bend on the matter Thursday, May 24.

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