(Editor’s Note: Below is an editorial written by Pat Lynch and released July 15 in the Conejo Valley Observer.)
In a stunning statement near the end of the June 19, 2019 open session of the board of trustees of the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD), Supt. Mark McLaughlin appears to have overstepped his authority—and perhaps violated the law—by unilaterally changing the district’s sex education from ‘opt-in’ to ‘opt-out’ without a vote from the school board.
In CVUSD Administrative Regulation (AR) 6142.1, under the Parent/Guardian Notification section, it clearly states that “District ‘Opt In’ parent consent forms will e made available to all parents/guardians by CVUSD Health Educators prior to the commencement of Sexual Health and HIV/ADS Preventon Instruction.”
The superintendent cannot change administrative regulations of the board without a board vote, even if the purpose of that change is to bring the regulation into better alignment with state law. In 2003, Senate Bill 71 made sex education ‘opt-out’ statewide. CVUSD has been therefore out of compliance in this regard for sixteen years, which begs the question: why did he decide to make this change right now of all times?
This is a fundamental change in our community that impact parental rights, and it was quietly made without fanfare, discussion, or even a vote. It appears that either the superintendent violated California Ed Code by making a policy change without board approval, or he violated the Brown Act by getting board majority consensus about the change secretly, outside of open session.
Either the board majority wanted to avoid a messy public discussion about changing sex educaton policy, or the superintendent make that decision on his own. Either way, it may be illegal and, if so, someone should be held accountable.
Superintendent Mark McLaughlin did not respond to our request for comment.