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Bill calls for stronger parental consent

If passed, written permission must be obtained by school to release students for medical procedures, sex ed classes.

April 22, 2011|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced a bill that he says would strengthen laws that require parents' written consent before a school can let students out early for confidential medical procedures or to teach them about sex, gender and sexual orientation.

The Parental Oversight and Involvement Act would also require parents' consent before students in grades 1 to 12 can be exposed to mental or physiological screenings and classes related to family life, morality or religion.

Though other state laws and school district rules address these issues, the assemblyman said he is trying to create statewide uniformity and expand existing state law to all grade levels. Existing laws, according to his bill, cover grades 7-12 in many of the areas he's trying to address.

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Mansoor, who held a press conference Wednesday with Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute — a nonprofit organization that dubs itself as a defender of religious freedom and parents' rights — said his bill is "about notifying the parents and making sure they are aware. It's about involving the parents."

When asked to elaborate on each of his proposals, Mansoor, who held his short press conference in his Costa Mesa district office, said he simply wants to keep parents in the loop.

When asked if this was about abortion, Dacus replied, saying the law could be applied to circumstances involving the procedure. Neither he nor Mansoor elaborated.

Mansoor's proposals, however, would turn the clock back on many benefits public school students gain from the current law, said Sharla Smith, HIV/STD prevention education consultant with the state Department of Education.

The education code, which was amended in 2003, allows school districts to passively notify parents or guardians of students in middle and high school of HIV/AIDS prevention instructions. The instruction would commence in seventh grade.

School districts also provide comprehensive sex education at any grade level, but they are age-appropriate. Newport-Mesa Unified provides sex and HIV/AIDS prevention education in accordance with state law, said Chuck Hinman, assistant superintendent of secondary education for the district.

Mansoor wants parents' written consent before such education is provided.

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