​Guest Commentary:

State legislation impacts OUSD

By Brenda Lebsack 

Every year, school board members are invited to attend a statewide conference, which the Orange Unified Board attended in December 2017 in San Diego.  The workshops offered pertain to public education.  They talk about laws and trends impacting curriculum, governance, budgets and the gamut. 

I believe parents may want to know about some of the more recent laws that may impact their children’s instructional day.   

AB-329, Calif. Healthy Youth Act: Passed in October 2015, it is a revision to the state’s Comprehensive Sexual Health Education legislation.  The main change is an added component that says: “sexual orientation/gender identity instruction taught in grades 7-12. Parents may opt their child out of the sexual reproduction or HIV prevention instruction, but may NOT opt out of the sexual orientation/gender identity instruction.”  The rational for not allowing an opt-out is that “instruction prevents bullying and harassment.”

OUSD is piloting an online health/sex-ed course called APEX for ninth graders. Approximately 1,700 students have taken it. Brea Olinda Unified School District and Fullerton Joint Union High School District are also using APEX.  The board will make a decision about adoption in March or April.

Calif. Family Code Section 6925: Minors of any age can leave school with an excused absence to receive contraceptives or an abortion without parental consent. 

Calif. Healthy Youth Act: For grades seven to 12 ... information about local resources (such as Planned Parenthood), how to access local resources, and pupils’ legal rights to access local resources for sexual and reproductive health care must be given.

OUSD is currently looking into a curriculum called Teen Talk that helps meet these new state requirements. Irvine also uses Teen Talk. If you have questions about the curriculum fulfilling these laws, go to casafeschools.org under the tab “about the law.”

SB-48: This bill, passed in July 2011, requires instruction in social sciences to include a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other cultural groups to the development of California and the United States. It applies to grades K-5, 8, 9, 11, and 12. It is up to school districts to decide how SB-48 is implemented.  According to the law, parents do not have to be notified about when this instruction is given.

This has been on hold because the California Department of Education just adopted 10 new textbooks in compliance wtih SB-48.  Individual district budgets will determine when these new social studies textbooks can be purchased, but districts can stay compliant through supplemental resources available online. 

SB-677: Data collection questions about sexual orientation and gender orientation can no longer be omitted in the California Healthy Kids Survey when collecting other demographic information.  The law requires state departments to collect data also on teacher credential applicants about their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The bill was passed in October of last year. 

OUSD does not use the Calif. Healthy Kids Survey, so it does not apply to us.

AB-119: Districts are mandated to give teacher and classified local unions all personal contact information of all employees and new hires (cell number, address, email address). This update is to be done every three months.  Unions must be given the right to participate in the new-hire orientation.  (Passed, June 2017.)

According to our district bylaws “...the Board of Education believes that its primary responsibility is to act in the best interests of every student in the District. The Board also has major commitments to parents/guardians, all members of the community, employees, the state of California, laws pertaining to public education, and established policies of the District.”

As mentioned in the workshops and discussions, school board trustees are learning how to navigate these new waters in order to comply with state mandates, while also striving to reflect the sensibilities of the community.

Brenda Lebsack is a trustee, representing Area 6 on the OUSD Board of Education.

February 2018