Many things remain up in the air about what the 2020-2021 school year will look like for students in Conejo Valley schools. Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) is publicly calling for a “Reopen & Redesign,” and safety is cited as its number one stated concern: “Safety is our top priority. CVUSD will follow state and local SAFETY public health guidelines with the safety of our students, staff, families and broader community at the forefront of everything we do.”
Let’s look at safety in light of a major change CVUSD made to the “2019-2020 Annual Notice of Parents’ Rights & Responsibilities.” This change stipulates that students as young as 12 years old, seventh graders, are permitted to leave school without parents being notified for medical services. Here is the relevant passage:
ABSENCES FOR CONFIDENTIAL MEDICAL SERVICES
EC §46010.1, CVUSD Board Policy 5113 & CVUSD Administrative Regulation 5113 The Governing Board of each school district shall, each academic year, notify pupils in grades 7 to 12, inclusive, and the parents/guardians of all pupils enrolled in the district, that school authorities may excuse any pupil from the school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil’s parent/guardian.
No limitations are listed in this board policy, meaning that your child could leave campus to have medical services that may include surgery and abortions without parental notification or permission. No details are given as to how medical providers care for minor children without the consent of their parents. No details are provided as to how payment of expenses incurred will be handled. It is also unclear how a child would get to and from these medical appointments. “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).”
Districts are given the option, but are not required, to allow this practice according to a state law passed in 1986 (EC 46010.1).
This all happened following the 2018 election of Jenny Fitzgerald, Cindy Goldberg, and Bill Gorback, who ran as a slate on the promise of good governance. Parents would do well to ask, what about this policy is safe and when did school administrators gain more rights over the lives of students than their parents have?
If CVUSD is primarily about safety: Why would the district allow students to be taken from campus without parental permission? Why are minor children put in a position to make life-altering medical decisions such as surgery or hormone treatments without the love and support of their primary advocates, their parents? Who is driving them? Are they taking Uber? What if something goes wrong? When do parents first find out?
Further, CVUSD currently has a $24,000,000 deficit. A policy like this invites not only parental outrage, but fiscal disaster if, or more likely when, something bad happens to a student who seeks non-parent-approved medical procedures with the permission and aid of the school.
Local mom Jennifer Miller, mother of three, says, “As a mom, I never want my kids to go through hard things alone. Hard things are inevitable, but loneliness is not. Please stay informed about what schools are allowing your kids to do without your knowledge. It doesn’t matter what you believe about these topics, but our kids feeling supported and held in their painful moments does.”
If the community and CVUSD parents don’t speak up, the policy will remain in place. Schools should empower parents, not create policies that strip them of their right to parent their children.