Back in July, the New Jersey Department of Education announced that school districts that don’t adhere to the new Sexual Health and Physical Education learning standards will be “penalized,” with consequences varying depending on the “severity” of the lack of compliance.
Now the DOE is doubling down, using what the Record said this morning is “the most direct language in months,” decreeing that districts that don’t adhere to the standards will face “disciplinary action.” Also, districts toying with the idea of parents opting their kids in rather than filling out opt-out forms, is disallowed. The only way for parents to have their kids skip the sexual education content is to write a letter to the principal “explaining that the lessons contradict their personal values and beliefs.”
Example: last week we reported that Lakewood Public Schools had quietly passed an “opt-in” policy, allowing only children whose parents had filled out paperwork to have access to the standards covering “Social and Sexual Health” and “Pregnancy and Parenting.” In August Middletown did the same thing.
Now those districts have to revisit the matter or invite “disciplinary action.” From the DOE’s statement:
New Jersey Student Learning Standards are mandatory and failure to comply can result in disciplinary action. For any children to be excused from any part of instruction in health, family life, or sex education, their parent or guardian must inform the school principal in writing that the instruction conflicts with their conscience or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs.
If the DOE finds during its evaluative process called QSAC that districts are non-compliant, “additional monitoring or intervention” may be “warranted.” Some have speculated this could include docking districts of state school aid.