A proposal to allow students in the San Juan Unified School District to be excused from school without parental consent for "confidential medical services" has stirred up a debate that's been playing out throughout the state.
The Pacific Justice Institute – a conservative legal nonprofit – is expected to square off against Planned Parenthood and the nonprofit National Center for Youth Law on the question of whether students in grades seven to 12 can leave campus for medical services that generally include abortions, acquiring birth control and treatment for sexual assault, drug and mental health issues.
I can't give a child an aspirin for a headache, the child cannot make an informed decision about whether or not an aspirin is ok, but the child can make an informed decision about whether or not they should leave school to have an abortion? I just don't understand that logic.
San Juan trustees are considering changing their policy to bring San Juan into compliance with the state Education Code, said Trent Allen, district spokesman. The proposed policy change was recommended by attendance staff members after a routine review of district policies, Allen said.
But Pacific Justice Institute lawyers argue the word "may" in a section of the Education Code on parental notification gives school districts the option to decide whether students can leave campus without parental permission. A letter to the school board from the law group says local districts have the power to have the final say on the decision.
But Sharla Smith of the California Department of Education said state Education and Family codes are clear – "a minor is allowed to get confidential medical care from age 12 and above."
I don't agree with that, but it is the law--kids can get confidential health care. But I don't see where it says that they can take school time to get that health care.
What if the child is hurt in an accident on the way to get "confidential health care". Who is responsible, the state? the school? The child was supposed to be in school!
We cannot simultaneously hold parents responsible for their child's actions, and allow the state and its agencies to actively assist the child in sneaking around behind their parents' backs.
Update, 11/18/09: The school board voted 3-2 last night to keep its current policy.