* Conejo Valley Unified Allows Students to Leave School for Abortions without Parental Consent or Notification

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By Janet Stephenson

The Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) Board of Education discussed its position on releasing students during school hours for abortions or other medical appointments without parental consent or notification, during the August 20, 2019 board meeting.

Districts are given the option, but are not required, to allow this practice according to a law passed in 1986 (EC 46010.1).

The “confidential medical services” referred to in the law can include abortion, contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and lobbying has now begun to include hormone therapy and puberty blockers for students transitioning from one gender to another.

The 2019 California Teachers Association New Business Item #6/19-12 proposes working on policy for minors to make medical decisions about hormone therapy without parental consent. The rationale included “the barrier of parental permission” is removed for minors to receive birth control hormones and should therefore be removed for minors to receive “gender identity confirming hormone therapy.”

According to case law, the operative word in the 1986 policy is “may.” The intent of the author of the law also factors into the practice being optional for school districts.

“In looking at it,” stated Trustee Fitzgerald while discussing Education Code § 46010.1 during the board meeting, “there appears to be quite a bit of controversy on the legal end in terms of how this is interpreted.”

“We have already reached out to legal counsel,” responded Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Lisa Miller, “and are going to be seeking legal guidance on how we move forward on this. Because as Ms. Fitzgerald said, it’s been contested in many ways. So we do want legal guidance.”

So far, legal advice on this matter has not been presented to the board and community.

UNTIL THIS YEAR, CVUSD DID NOT PROPERLY NOTIFY PARENTS OF THEIR PRACTICE IN THEIR HANDBOOK

Until this school year, CVUSD notified parents in its annual Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook that the District does not excuse students for medical appointments without parental consent by including the phrase, “However, the District, as a practice, does not choose to release students to obtain confidential medical services.”

The current 2019-20 Parents’ Handbook notifies parents in the 2019-20 Parents’ Handbook that students may leave school to obtain abortions and other medical services without parental notification or permission.

These optional and controversial changes to the Parents’ Handbook were decided upon without an opportunity for public comment or a vote from the Board of Education.

DISCREPANCY IN THE AR, CVUSD HAS BEEN ALLOWING STUDENTS TO LEAVE SCHOOL

CVUSD has, in fact, allowed the practice of students leaving for “confidential medical services” since 2008 when the board updated its Administrative Regulation (AR) on the subject. It states, “When excusing students for confidential medical services or verifying such appointments, district staff shall not ask the purpose of such appointments but may contact a medical office to confirm the time of the appointment (CVUSD AR 5113).”

“What does this actually look like from a parents’ and kids’ perspective,” queried Trustee Goldberg at the August 20, 2019 board meeting discussion regarding CVUSD practice on this matter.

“If the student comes to us and says I have a confidential medical appointment,” responded CVUSD, Assistant Superintendent Miller, “we would release the student. We can verify the appointment by asking the student to bring back a doctor’s note that they had an appointment at a specific time.”

1 COMMENT

  1. This article is simply exploring an institutions belief in an individual’s right to privacy. And notice that the statements made by the CVUSD does not specify abortions. We are offered a right to privacy for by our medical system because certain ideologies disparage certain procedures, such as abortions (please note: the Bible, the document which has been claimed to assert over the past 40 years or so that abortion is abhorrent doesn’t actually claim this. In the ancient world, the belief that the breathing of the first breath, since air was considered a spiritual substance, was the infusion of the soul with the body, and the soul does not enter the body in the womb. This is why in the bible the unborn fetus is called “the mother’s thigh.” The fetus was an appendage of the mother until it was born and took it first breath). CVUSD’s language is “confidential medical services.” I would suggest taking a course in logic so you can understand how language is misused and mutated into rhetoric. Basically, your headline is misleading and I suspect your desire for doing so was to create fervor against the CVUSD for keeping the medical situations of students private because perhaps you suspect every student who leaves school for a medical reason is getting an abortion.

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