Sticking with staff members for sex education at Nevada Union school district |

Sticking with staff members for sex education at Nevada Union school district

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

On Sept. 27 U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa issued a news release congratulating Grass Valley’s LivingWell Medical Clinic for acquiring a $450,000 federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration.

But the local clinic — a nonprofit providing pregnancy, sexual health education and medical services — didn’t get the money. It revoked its July 1 application to the Competitive Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Grant Program last month after learning it would not be teaching sexual education in the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

Instead, “only staff teachers would provide sexual and reproductive health education on their campuses,” the clinic’s CEO Cathy Seapy wrote in a news release.

Seapy wrote that LivingWell’s services would now be “greatly diminished” because the clinic would no longer have access to a larger body of students at Nevada Union and Bear River high schools.

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LivingWell Medical Clinic has been operating in Nevada and Placer county schools for a decade, said Seapy, and have “been in and out of Nevada Union depending on the administration changes.”

“The reasons for the last-minute withdrawal are multifaceted,” Seapy said in a release. “Although we worked diligently with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to find a way to ensure that our students would be provided accurate and comprehensive sexual risk avoidance education, and received great support from HHS throughout this process, the change in NJUHS policy will not allow us to provide these services to students at Nevada Union and Bear River High Schools this year and greatly diminished the population of Nevada County students available for the grant program.”

‘Teaching according to law’

The Nevada Joint Union High School District partners with a wide array of organizations, said Superintendent Brett McFadden, and all of them carefully vetted.

“We want to make sure there’s no particular bias,” said McFadden.

The superintendent didn’t address how LivingWell is biased, however Dan Frisella, assistant superintendent to the district, said the district had fielded complaints from staff members and parents about what they called LivingWell’s biased teaching in the past.

The clinic taught sexual education during the 2017-18 school year at Nevada Union and for the last two school years at Bear River, said Frisella, but it has had a longer relationship with the latter school.

“We have credentialed teachers that are trained and highly skilled” who will teach sex education, said McFadden, later adding: “We will always (defer) to our trained staff.”

McFadden and Frisella said they wanted to ensure that they were following the instructions of the California Healthy Youth Act, which states that comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education is required in both middle and high school and that “abstinence-only instruction is not permitted.”

LivingWell’s website states: “The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states abstaining from sexual activity, until in a life-long monogamous relationship with another uninfected person, is the only 100% guarantee you have to avoid pregnancy and to avoid contracting an (sexually transmitted infection).”

A Sept. 4 meeting occurred with McFadden and a representative from LivingWell, where the organization provided an overview of their operations, said McFadden. The superintendent said he wasn’t aware the clinic had applied for a federal grant.

“We didn’t have any judgment calls to the quality of (LivingWell’s) instruction,” said McFadden, but that “In this case, we want to make sure, especially with sex education, that we’re teaching it according to the law.”

This was the first time the medical clinic had applied for federal funding, said Seapy.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey at or call 530-477-4219.

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