Granada High Hit Hard

Arrest of teacher Marie Johnson on sex charges the third set back just halfway through the school year.

The school year has barely reached the halfway point and it is already reeling from three emotional tsunamis.

The first happened when beloved teacher died in August just before the start of the new school year. Students and teachers mourned his passing with , Facebook remembrances and an outpouring of grief.

The second came when Granada Leadership and Social Studies teacher Sommer Newkirk was diagnosed with leukemia. The Granada community chipped it by donating all proceeds to the First Annual Livermore-Granada Chili Cook-off in early November to help her family with expenses.

Then came the devastating news that a popular math teacher, had been arrested Jan. 11 just three days before she turned 41. Johnson was arrested on 24 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation and lewd acts with a 14-year-old Granada High School student that happened from Dec. 2010 to May 2011 in her vehicle and other Livermore locations.

According to reports, , although she has not yet entered a plea. Her case to Feb. 23.

There are few things as jarring as hearing that a person in a position of authority over children has abused that role. When Johnson, a longtime teacher and mother of two, was arrested, it hit a lot of hot buttons. While she hasn’t yet had her day in court to defend herself against the allegations, just the whisper of scandal can cause screams in the community.

quickly followed, and as is often the case, people have been quick to judge. The difference now is that they have a public forum to vent with online comments in newspapers, social networks and on Patch.

Ironic given the fact that Johnson first had contact with the boy through social networking. Because of that, school officials are now discussing the wisdom in teachers interacting with students through such sites.

It’s disturbing to me to read ignorant comments about how lucky this boy is, and how it’s impossible for a woman to molest a boy barely into puberty.

If true, then according to many posters, the lessons this young person has been taught are these: It's OK for a forty-something person to have sex with a person barely into their teens. A person in authority over you can cross a professional line. And, especially if you are a male child, you should be happy that some older woman opted to act out on her sexual fantasies with you.

The impact of these alleged encounter shouldn’t be viewed like some sophomoric film. There are real consequences for both an adult and a young person who engages in this activity. A young man at that age is just forming their adult personalities. If he believes it’s a good thing to have sex with an older person, then what would stop him from thinking as a 40-year-old man that he could have a sexual relationship with a 13- or 14-year-old girl? His entire perception of women and acceptable behavior could be impacted.   

Right now the teen involved in the investigation and Johnson’s son — both about the same age — attend Granada High School. It’s time for adults to step up and make sure that each gets the proper support so that they can emerge from this ordeal with the right lessons learned.

david January 23, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Susan: All I can say is WELL SAID!
Heidi Longoria January 23, 2012 at 03:31 PM
You nailed it, Susan! Well said.
Karen January 23, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Thank you Susan for this article! You said it so well.
Special Ed January 23, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Mostly what you have described is the Christian influence on society, but who's to say it's correct. Christianity has influenced controls on physical interaction to suit their own purpose and belief, but there are no indications in the natural world that would indicate that the age difference between a man and a woman is anything other than a manmade law. These issues are over analyzed and sensationalized, and people involved are vilified because they go against the teaching of Christian religions, but from a societal standpoint drugs and alcohol abuse, and the violence associated with them, have a much more profound negative effect on society.
RU11550 January 23, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Thank you for your post. It was well written and well said.
RU11550 January 23, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Special Ed, your response alarms me.
CJ January 23, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Special Ed: you must not have children
Raleigh January 23, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Thank you for your article
Special Ed January 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I do have children; sons and daughters and they have been raised in a Christian faith to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, but I know that they won’t always make the right decisions. I don't condone this type of behavior and I'm not saying that what Mrs. Johnson and the student did wasn't inappropriate. To vilify her as a predator or conclude that this will scar the student for life or make him a sexual deviant is preposterous. And what does the age difference between the two parties have to do with any of this? The teacher/student relationship was breached, and she shouldn’t be allowed to teach high school students any more. Period. Why put on a big trial and bring lots of news coverage or throw her in jail? Let’s be honest, most of us were pretty curious about sex when we were 14 and my guess is that many of us “experimented” or knew others that “experimented”. If it had been with someone 20+ years older, why would it have been any different or illegal? We didn’t talk about it openly, or publish it in our local newspaper back then. It was a fact of life, and there was no public forum to get everybody’s opinion about it. All I’m saying is that the act itself, between a male and female, is understandable. I agree that high school teachers and students should not be seducing each other. That is an integrity issue on the part of the teacher and the student.
Herb Russell January 23, 2012 at 06:46 PM
What do the age differences have to do with this? Seriously? And you have children? Have your children ever been sexually abused? Have you? I think the answers to those questions would greatly change your thinking on what the age difference had to do with all of this. Susan didn't say the kid would become a child predator. She said when he becomes 40, he very well may have his lines of appropriate behavior between adults and children blurred. And I believe that is a VERY GOOD point and probably spoken from experience. Without giving up my whole private life I can say that Susan has it almost 100% accurate. And as a true Christian it's sad you don't think age difference is of that great of importance. Remember the pagans of the first century? They had a week long orgy to end all orgies that included children. Perhaps you agree with Pagan ideology than true Christianity. I can't remember Jesus teaching in the bible that sexual relationships between children and adults was ok. Exactly the opposite in fact. And by the way, I do NOT like bringing religion into a topic but you started it.
RC January 23, 2012 at 07:59 PM
As the mother of a Granada student my concern and thoughts are for all the students at the school this very trying year. My son was looking forward to having Mr. Fye first trimester, knows and supports Mrs. Newkirk, is a former student of Mrs. Johnson and a friend of her son. The students have had life slap them hard this year; death, illness and betrayal. Now the reality of the world is resting heavily on their shoulders. As parents, and the community at large, we need to show Granada that we support their student body and their staff - no matter what.
Jim Chu January 23, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Know what's crazy? That a 14-year-old is somehow responsible enough to know right from wrong and stand trial as an adult, yet can't be held accountable for his/her own consentual sex. Let me ask you something - what is the difference between and adult having sex with a minor and two minors having sex? Because the latter happens thousands of times each day and somehow it's OK? Either underage sex is bad and it should be punished REGARDLESS OF THE AGE OF THE PERPETRATORS or it should be OK. Somehow this 14-year-old boy is going to be psychologically damaged because he allegedly had sex with his teacher, but his classmates who are having sex amongst themselves are not? Someone please tell me why we have this double standard? I'm not saying it's right for adults to engage in sex with minors. In fact, I'm asking all of you to consider making it entirely illegal for minors to be sexually active at all. Why isn't the 16-year-old who deflowered my 14-year-old in juvenile detention? Why can't I even press charges? If it's going to be a crime it should be punishable FOR EVERYONE. Isn't that what justice is supposed to be? Kids who engage in sex with other kids need to be disciplined as much as adults. If not, then what is the rationale for this being a crime?
Momof3girls January 23, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Jim.....I agree with you 100%. Well said!!!
CJ January 24, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Special Ed I pray that your children are never put in a situation like this. Because it obvious that if wont be a big deal to you, because" it's normal" in your eyes
Special Ed January 24, 2012 at 01:23 AM
If you want to take the bible literally, a 14 year old would likely have been considered an adult. I'm unaware that the bible forbids relationships between male and females based on age differences. That fact is that this issue is merely a symptom of modern Christian interpretation of Jesus teaching. In fact, what Jesus taught us was that we should teach our children right from wrong and that we should teach them the meaning of doing the right things, even when no one is watching. These teachings apply equally to Mrs. Johnson and the student.
Special Ed January 24, 2012 at 01:28 AM
RC, Two of my children are Granada graduates and I agree that the real world has dealt the current student body some challenges this year. This is when they should learn to respond appropriately and rationally to situations that occur in the real world.
Special Ed January 24, 2012 at 01:35 AM
CJ I prayed, when my children were of high school age, that they knew better than to put themselves in a situation like this. They have a choice...right or wrong. If they had made the wrong choice, I would have dealt with that as a learning experience, not a legal one. Your comment insinuates that some external force put this student in this situation.
Sue January 24, 2012 at 01:39 AM
this is the first I heard of Summer Newkirk having leukemia. How is she doing?
Jaimeson Cortez January 24, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Mrs. Newkirk is doing much better, she's been back teaching our leadership class for almost two months now. The leukemia was identified as chronic myelocytic leukemia, not acute. She's on daily medication but she's just as active and involved as ever.
Jaimeson Cortez January 24, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Thank you so much. As a student at Granada, it's great to see positive comments like this. We have been through a lot this school year, but we really do appreciate having the community's support in understanding, coping, and most importantly- moving on.
Kristofer Noceda (Editor) January 24, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Thank you Jaimeson for the updates.
Dodge This! January 26, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I am so done with this women and story, I can not wait till it goes away!
South Side Livermore January 30, 2012 at 06:11 PM
whoa... how is decency, limited to being just Christian influence on civilized society? I hope that Special Ed doesn't have any influence on children with this warped sense of inappropriate sexual justification. Tolerance, like that from which your comment derives, is the problem with civilized society today... especially the Bay Area Liberals who are so warped with pretentious entitlement hiding behind warped analysis so as to appear more evolved.... just like the occupy idiots... your analysis is warped by PC tolerance.... I hope no Auntie diddles fondles your children... poor kids, need a parent with a back bone...


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