Wednesday, October 31, 2012

About That Formal Recommendation to Change the Round Rock ISD Sex Curriculum....

As parents are becoming increasingly aware, the Round Rock Independent School District is considering adopting a new sex education curriculum.  Just to review:  the current programs tell students about contraception, but do not feature condom technique demonstrations.  Now RRISD Board President Chad Chadwell, up for re-election on the November ballot, believes that kids should be given actual condom demonstrations.

But there's something even more curious about the entire chain of events.  According to an August 23 KVUE News report, the RRISD Student Health Advisory Committee recommended that the district switch to an "abstinence plus" sex education program.  Then on October 17, the Round Rock Leader also reported that:
 "Members of the district's School Health Advisory Committee presented a recommendation to trustees in August, to teach an abstinence-plus sex education curriculum instead of the current abstinence-comprehensive curriculum.
So who is on the Student Health Advisory Committee  (SHAC) and how are committee members chosen?  According to the Texas Education Code, Chapter 28.004,
The board of trustees of each school district shall establish a local school health advisory council to assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district's health education instruction. (emphasis added)
TEC 28.004 also states that the Board of Trustees shall appoint at least five members to the council, and that the majority of the members must be parents who are not employed by the district.  Furthermore, the code requires that the SHAC provide "a detailed explanation of the council's activities."

So where is this detailed explanation for the activities of the RRISD SHAC?

It's hard to say.  The RRISD SHAC Annual Report for 2011-12 only mentions "program speakers," but no actual members, nor who compiled the report.  The only references that can be found to the composition of the committee indicate that Mary McGuire is the RRISD SHAC Chair, and Christine Javonavic is the Co-Chair, but this is not listed on the Annual Report.

I did speak to one gentleman who has attended all of the RRISD SHAC events, a Mr. Lynn Williams.  Mr. Williams had called the school district last year to ask to be on the committee, and since then has been receiving email notifications for the four annual meetings.  According to Mr. Williams, however, the meetings have only consisted of presentations from guest speakers; there has been no sign-in sheet, roll call, etc.    

Here is what is especially disturbing:  Mr. Williams attended the June meeting where the "committee" supposedly recommended that the district adopt an "abstinence plus" program.  (The SHAC Annual Report states "a motion was made," but does not tell us who motioned.)  According to Mr. Williams, 12 people were in attendance, and again there was no sign-in or roll call taken.  Attendees heard from two presenters, and then they were asked by a show of hands, "who thinks the school district should move to an abstinence plus program?"  Mr. Williams states that 10 of the 12 raised their hands.

That, was how the formal recommendation was established?

Later Mr. Williams was shocked to learn that this was presented to the RRISD Board of Trustees as an official recommendation based on official proceedings. 

There is a post on the Round Rock ISD website from October 18, 2012 that invites individuals to "Sign-up as a potential volunteer."  Perhaps more parents from the community should take the initiative and ask for an appointment to the council? 

Incidentally, when I began researching this topic, I found the RRISD SHAC Annual Report on the district's website, but it disappeared while I was writing.  Happily, I had saved a copy which is now available on Google docs. I'm also puzzled as to why the media keeps referring to RRISD's SHAC as a 'committee' rather than a 'council.'

Not sure what's going on here, but I think there are many questions that need to be answered before the trustees take any RRISD SHAC too seriously.

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