Judge mulls obscene materials charge in Salmon River School District

Jan. 31—GRANGEVILLE — Second District Judge Adam H. Green has taken under advisement a lawsuit against the Salmon River School District alleging that the district is exposing students to obscene materials in the schools.

Green said at the conclusion of a hearing here Monday that he would issue a written decision on the matter at a later date. The Salmon River School District is located in Riggins.

The lawsuit was filed in October by Keith Markley, 61, of New Meadows, who is representing himself in court. According to court records, Markley claims that the school district is allowing "the exposure of minors to obscene materials," that have been found in the school library, classrooms, website and internet. Markley did not specify in the documents the materials he's referring to.

Markley claims that these actions by the school district have resulted in "the loss of a right to a free public education because of the real possibility of exposure to obscene materials in violation of Idaho law at and during school.

"Many patrons of (Joint School District 243) have repeatedly and often asked the board and administrators to protect our children from exposure to the harmful materials ... and (these officials) have failed to remove them," Markley said.

He added that the school district "is violating the most basic maxim of law: 'Do No Harm'" by allowing these materials to be accessible at school.

Markley is asking for a trial by jury to order the school district to rewrite school policies, apologize to patrons and to award financial damages in excess of $10,000.

In answer to Markley's claims, the school district's attorney, Bret A. Walther of the Boise firm of Anderson, Julian and Hull, said that the defendants, including all the board members and administrators, deny the claims and that the allegations "do not apply to the defendants and/or assert only legal conclusions, to which a response is not required."

The claim of harmful materials at school has been a hot button issue since last fall after large billboards were posted along Riggins' Main Street saying "Get Porn out of Riggins Schools." The local Idaho County Free Press has been frequently inundated with letters to the editor from people arguing both sides. Several citizens and business owners gathered at a city council meeting last on Oct. 11 complaining that the "big yellow signs" hurt the tourism business on which Riggins is dependent.

Hedberg may be contacted at khedberg@lmtribune.com.