Time for board to take action
Now that the implications of a state law concerning parental notification have been publicized, the Nevada Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees needs to address it.
The law, which went into effect in 1986, states “that school authorities may excuse any pupils from the school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil’s parent or guardian.”
The law applies to students in grades seven through 12. Confidential medical services can refer to treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, an abortion or perhaps an appointment for birth control pills.
Attorney General Bill Lockyear said in a recent legal opinion that his interpretation of the law is that schools can’t require parental consent in those matters.
Superintendent Maggie Deetz has chosen to follow the attorney general’s lead, a decision that has enraged parents and led to a vigorous discussion at a recent meeting of the district’s unwritten policy.
Compelling arguments are offered by both sides of an issue that has exploded in western Nevada County.
Parents and supporters of parental consent are dumbfounded that schools would let their children leave campus without so much as a note from them. Now, all that’s required is a note from a health-care professional that does not need to say what sort of care is needed or being sought.
Those who are opposed to parental notification point out that some students live in dysfunctional homes and may be victims of sex abuse by their parents, relatives or guardians. So consequently they need this avenue to pursue the necessary treatment or other services.
Now, the ball is squarely in the school board’s court. The purpose of the attorney general’s opinion is to clarify murky language in a law. In this case the school district’s administration cites the opinion when explaining that parental consent is not required.
Other school districts, however, do require that students have the permission of their parents before they leave the campus for these types of medical services.
It’s time for the Nevada County Union School District’s elected representatives to consider and establish a written policy on the parental-consent issue. The parents deserve a discussion and a decision made by representatives.
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