Modesto, CA – Early this week, the school board of Modesto took a "side-door" to maintain the current relatively parent-friendly policy of opt-in/opt-out in regard to Confidential Medical Services (CMS). The board was considering a controversial new policy that would allow students to leave campus for "confidential medical services" – including abortions - without their parents' knowledge.
PJI was contacted last month by several parents, teachers and residents of Modesto who had strong concerns about this proposed policy and the erosion of parental rights. After speaking to concerned parents, Pacific Justice Institute sent a legal opinion letter stressing that California law does not require that school districts allow minors to leave campus without parental consent for Confidential Medical Services.
At last Monday night's follow-up meeting there was no motion to consider the final vote, thus no votes were cast and the proposal died. Although the method was unusual and allowed two particular members to abstain from a controversial vote, the outcome was a victory upholding parents as the first and foremost caregivers and authority figures in their children's lives. It is clear that the board is now willing to consider an "open forum" with the community to seek a better solution.
Earlier this year, PJI attorneys, partnering with others such as Penny Harrington of Concerned Women for America and Attorney Dean Broyles of Western Center for Law and Policy, succeeded in persuading the Vista Unified School District's School Board to adopt a similar parent-friendly policy. "Working together, school boards can quickly learn that they do not have to surrender to outside groups committed to thwarting parents while victimizing children," said Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute.
Parents are encouraged to find out what their school board policy is in regards to CMS and to contact PJI as needed to help communicate clearly the current "Education Code."