TWENTYNINE PALMS — Morongo Unified School District trustees discussed updates to current policies Tuesday morning.
Due to new California School Boards Association policies, the district needs to update its rules on accommodating breastfeeding, administering medication, teaching sexual education and more.
The board read through some of the proposed changes Tuesday but didn’t take any action; they will vote on them during their regular board meeting on Feb. 11.
“We want to give everyone time to review them and give parents time to come talk to us about it,” said board member Chris Proudfoot.
A new law, SB 233, which was approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July 2019, gives the board the power to update its medication policy to allow a parent or guardian, but not school personnel, to give medicinal cannabis to a student who is a qualified patient. The cannabis couldn’t be smoked.
However, because medical cannabis in not legal under federal law, by allowing it on campus the board could lose federal funding, Superintendent Tom Baumgarten warned.
Currently, parents in the school district who use medical cannabis to treat their children for conditions such as epilepsy can only do so off campus.
At the meeting, the board recommended keeping its current policy so MUSD will not risk any federal funding.
“Until the federal law and the state law work out, there are issues. I would not want to be the test case,” Baumgarten said.
The board also discussed updating its sexual education policy to more directly reflect the goals of the California Healthy Youth Act and to meet new law SB 1104, which requires California school districts to provide information on human trafficking as a component of their sexual education.
The board quickly expressed concerns about how parents would react to the updated policy.
“I think this will get to the point where people will ask why does the government decide when to teach my kid about sex,” said board member Karalee Hargrove.
Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Amy Woods reminded the board that parents will still have the option to opt out of the sexual education section, which is taught once in seventh or eighth grade and once in ninth or 12th grade.
Woods also clarified that the course is now considered sexual health due to the range of topics it covers, including pregnancy, information on gender and gender identity and now human trafficking. All of these subjects are required by California law to be taught to students.
“It’s about learning to protect yourself and your health,” Woods said. “Now a lot of kids don’t get that at home, but sometimes it is troubling for parents.”
She urged parents who feel uncomfortable with the school teachings to talk to their children at home about what they learned in class and to teach them about what their family values are in addition to the teaching the school is doing.
The policy change will also be voted on formally in the board’s Feb. 11 meeting.