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  • Tuesday, June 05, 2018

     

    Sex Ed, and Bond Consultant controversies


    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    Controversy over new California sex education law comes to Orange Unified Board of Education


    Like many school boards across the state,  the Orange Unified School Board was blindsided when without notice at their regular  May 24, 2018 school board meeting the public comment section was inundated with speakers opposing new teaching programs implementing California's new sex education law The California Healthy Youth Act.   Sex education was not on the agenda.

    The result of the public comments was a hastily called unscheduled Special OUSD Board meeting held six days later on May 30th. At that meeting hours of testimony from members on both sides of the issue showed up. As a result, the OUSD Board froze the rollout of the new program that the district had purchased, That sex education program is called Teen Talk.
    For more information click on the report here OUSD Agenda

    Despite the surprise at the May 24th meeting, the Orange Unified administration did have a warning of how explosive the new program's material was being received. Early in the school year OUSD conducted a two-day training for OUSD Science teachers assigned to teach the new program. During the training, a mini-revolt occurred from several science teachers who themselves were shocked by the Teen Talk program. Reports are that teachers returned to schools to tell their principals they would not teach the material.  The revolt was quickly put down when a top district administrator appeared at the training to tell the teachers that they had no choice if they did not teach the material they would lose their job.

    The California Healthy Youth Act was adopted in 2015.  It did not go through the usual path of  California educational adoptions of frameworks then curriculum.

    The new law was to address California's uneven record in sex education and health in public schools brought to light by the 2012 court case called American Academy of Pediatrics v. Clovis USD.  The case took three years to conclude.

    In 2003 California passed the  California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act to update numerous contradictory topic specific amendments that over the years had been added to the Education Code. The law required California school districts to ensure that all students in grades seven to twelve receive comprehensive  HIV prevention education and "sexual health education". The law told school districts that sex education could not just focus on abstinence until marriage. 

    Then in 2011, a damning report of California's sex education programs in public schools was published.  The report from researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that school districts across California were not complying with the 2003 law. The research found that the following about the school programs:
    For more information click on the report here UCSF REPORT

    In 2012 a lawsuit was filed against Clovis Unified alleging the district's violation of the 2003 California law.  In the lawsuit named American Academy of Pediatrics vs Clovis Unified,  two parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network alleged that the school district was using an abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education curriculum in the district's high schools in violation of the 2003 law. The lawsuit claimed the abstinence-only curriculum was putting teens' health at risk by giving students misinformation and denying them critical instruction about pregnancy prevention.   The lawsuit also alleged that the district textbook's information on HIV prevention did not mention condoms and stated all adults should abstain from sex until marriage. The lawsuit also cited a district required video on sexual health that had a new husband on the married couples wedding night comparing his wife to a dirty shoe because she was not a virgin. The lawsuit also stated that the video also provided information that men were physically unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused.

    The plaintiffs were represented for free by the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

    Clovis Unified while fighting the lawsuit did work to change its sex education program with the plaintiffs. In 2014 the plaintiffs dropped the lawsuit, but the court proceeded with a ruling. In 2016 Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black ruled against the school district concluding that because of the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy that medically accurate sexual health information is “an important public right.”
    For more information click on  CLOVIS CASE

    Later in 2016 on the heels of their victory, the American Civil Liberties Union sponsored the legislation that would become the California Healthy Youth Act. San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber carried the bill in the legislature.

    The California Healthy Youth Act requires public schools  “to provide pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their sexual and reproductive health from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and from unintended pregnancy (and) provide pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage, and  family.”  The law forbids students to be separated by gender to receive this instruction and allows but doesn’t require, schools to teach sex education in elementary grades, starting in kindergarten.  

    The law also requires the curriculum will include information about “sexual harassment, sexual assault, adolescent relationship abuse, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking” and  “comprehensive, accurate and unbiased” information on sexual health and HIV prevention.   the law allows for a parental opt-out of the lessons related to sex.

    If anatomy and sex weren't enough,  the most controversial aspects of the law for conservatives are the inability for parents to opt-out of the gender identification lesson requirements.  Conservative media have dubbed this requirement as "gender ideology". The law specifically states that all California public schools are to teach students about gender expression and gender stereotypes. The law specifies that the parental opt-out does not extend to “instruction, materials, presentations, or programming that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, discrimination … relationships or family".

    Implementation of the law has been complicated by the fact that no official state adopted curriculum is available.  A new California Health Education Framework is not expected to be adopted by the State Board of Education until at least May 2019.  After a framework adoption, it normally takes two years before there is an approved list of state recommended materials for courses. While school districts can create their own materials that adhere to the law, having no state-approved curriculum has led to a variety of private and public organizations creating programs to meet the law's requirements.

    For more information click on: CDE Health Framework Timeline

    Most California districts have relied on the non-profit Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group's list of sex education programs to use to comply with the new law.  The list includes two free online programs and four programs that can be purchased in various configurations.  All meet the new California standards, but in different ways and at different price points.  
    For more information click on: 
                                                                                                                                   
    The most controversial and widely adopted is Northern California based Health Connected's Teen Talk program. That is the program was adopted by Orange Unified. The program has come under fire across the state from conservative groups and religious institutions. Aside from what critics are calling the graphic nature and age inappropriateness of the Teen Talk program,  Critics are also concerned about the program's requirement of identification of local health resources for students. Teen Talk is seen by critics as providing local resources as what they deem "politically oriented".

    From Chino to San Diego, from Fremont to San Juan Capistrano, and from Cupertino Union School District to Orange local boards have been targeted by critics over the new law.  Even the Orange County Board of Education has been targeted by protestors.



    The list of growing public outcry continues to grow with Orange just the latest. Chino, San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, and Cupertino Union have all experienced rallies, or petitions, or demonstrations, and/or coordinated public appearances at school board meetings similar to Orange Unified.  
    Protest  in Cupertino Unified School District

    In Cupertino and San Juan Capistrano, thousands signed online protest petitions. Protest rallies and opt-out days (including an international one on April 23, 2018) have taken place and are still being planned. Fremont, Capistrano USD  and Orange school boards quickly voted to suspend the Teen Talk programs.   In Cupertino after protests, the district dropped the Teen Talk program and held a  series of more than two dozen public events that several hundred people attended as part of the district’s preparation for its new sexual health curriculum program Positive Prevention.
     For more information click on: 


    The California Department of Education has little way to ensure school districts teach to the new sex education standards after the state stopped auditing districts for compliance four years ago because of lack of resources.   In light of the growing controversy, in April the California Department of Education sent out a letter to school district superintendents.  While the letter addressed the HIV and SDI portion that parents can opt-out of, it did not address the gender issue controversy or the lack of state-approved materials. The Orange County Department of Education also issued a similar FAQ sheet as a news item.
    For more information click on: 


    Despite the state not having the resources to enforce compliance, with the backing of the ACLU, any district that chooses to totally ignore the law could be targeted for an expensive lawsuit and most likely a losing court battle.

    C.A.R.E Bond consultant under scrutiny in ABC Unified  bond contract
    AMN Key Solutions and its relations with a C.A.R.E. Measure S Bond leader has been in the news concerning a contract in the ABC Unified School District.

    Last week the Los Cerritos News Hews Media Group (HMG-CN) published a story on a recently approved contract involving ABC Unified's latest attempts to win approval of a school facilities bond. HMG-CN reports it found inconsistencies with the application from Ann Nock the owner of AMN Key Solutions.

    Last month, AMN Key Solutions was awarded a community outreach services contract for that upcoming ABC Unified School District bond election. The approval came as the ABC Unified Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu pushed back on concerns by ABC Trustees after HMG-CN reported that Nock submitted questionable information on her bid documents. The HMG-CN report alleged the contract application had "suspect references"* citing Nock's reference from the Orange Bond campaign C.A.R.E. Endorsement Chair Denise Bittel. 

    HMG-CN reports AMN Key Solutions had bid on the 2016 OUSD bond outreach contract but then withdrew their bid from consideration. After the OUSD Board voted to place the bond on the 2016 ballot, AMN Key Solutions was hired by C.A.R.E. HMG-CN reported that AMN Key Solutions' contract bid reported that they directly worked for Orange Unified School District.

    Aside from the references about the OUSD Bond, the HMG-CN report cited other matters concerning AMN Key Solutions'  contract bid for ABC Unified that included its physical location and media presence.*

    The OUSD Measure S connection in the HMG-CN investigation documented in its report that ABC Unified officials were aware AMN Key Solutions falsely claimed to work for the Orange Unified School District. The HMG-CN report states that AMN Key Solutions actually worked for the independent C.A.R.E group through the group's campaign filings.  Those filings show over $58,000 was paid to AMN from August to November of 2016, $30,000 for November.-September; $21,000 in Oct.-Nov.; and $7,500 in January 2017.  states that campaign documents show Bittel was paid over $2,000.

    HMG-CN reported that AMN Key Solutions bid for the ABC contract included a reference page listing Denise Bittel. HMG-CN reports the reference page on AMN Key Solutions bid misspelled Bittel's name as "Biddle" (twice)  and referenced her as the Co-Chair of C.A.R.E.
    The HMG-CN report states:
    "HMG-CN phoned Ms. Bittel who, true to form, gave a glowing testimonial about Nock’s services. 

    Bittel indicated she “was Co-Chair of the bond” and that Nock “advised heavily on the bond.”

    But the investigation found that Bittel was not the “Chair of the Orange Unified Bond,” as Nock had stated in her bid documents. She was not even Chair of CARE.

    Quite the contrary, on the CARE website, Bittel was number thirteen down on the list as the Endorsements Chair of CARE"

    For more information click on:

    Inside the June 7 Agenda
    Information Item 13 Item 4: Information on a proposed performing arts theater for OUSD and the surrounding communities. The Greater Orange Community Arts Theater.

    For information about the theater proposal and fundraising efforts see the video below:



    OUSD Public Relations costs
    In February 2018 OUSD Trustees voted $219,424 for a Public Relations contract (Click on):
     OUSD VOTES $219,424 for PR

    Here is what spending $219,424 of educational tax dollars on PR buys (For the latest in OUSD News on the web Click on): 
    OUSD in the NEWS



    NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING June 7, 2018
    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON: OUSD AGENDA

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

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