The Modesto City School Board on Monday voted to allow junior high and high school students to leave campus during the school day for “confidential medical services,” such as abortions, without the consent or knowledge of their parents.
The school board adopted the new policy in a preliminary vote of 4-3, the California Catholic Daily says. The board members will take another vote on the issue on July 13.
Karen England, executive director of the pro-family lobbying group Capitol Resource Institute, attended the meeting and reported that four people testified in favor of “excluding parents.” Three were from Planned Parenthood while one was described as an “activist.”
“Every single additional testimony asked the board to include parents,” England said in a statement following the meeting. “Modesto parents and pastors left the meeting fired up. They are ready to tell their communities what is going on -- so that more families can get involved, because people are still unaware.”
England encouraged opponents of the decision to contact school board members before the July 13 vote and to attend its next meeting.
School district attorney Roman Munoz said the new policy updates district regulations to conform to a provision of the state Education Code which took effect in 1986.
The relevant section of the Education Code says the governing board of each school district in each academic year should notify pupils in grades 7 to 12 and their parents and guardians 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 or guardian.”
England said the law “provides permission” for implementing confidential medical release but “certainly does not impose a mandate.”
“There are over 900 public school districts in California and many do not offer their students confidential medical release. Modesto's current policy is parent-friendly,” she added. “Unfortunately, Modesto has sided with Planned Parenthood for now, against parents.”
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Vice President Deborah Oritz told the Sacramento Bee that the law on confidential medical services covers more than sexual or reproduction issues.
The Sacramento Bee said that medical services can include pregnancy testing, contraception, abortion, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, counseling and treatment for rape, drug abuse, mental health and other services.
The issue of schools permitting students to seek confidential medical services is being considered by several other California school districts.
On March 12 the Vista Board of Education in northern San Diego County unanimously adopted a policy requiring students to have parental consent before leaving campus during the school day for medical services, the California Catholic Daily reports.
The Fairfield-Suisun Board of Education, which presently requires parental or guardian consent for a student to leave campus for any reason, is scheduled to consider the matter on July 25.