New Jersey school districts could face discipline over sex education non-compliance

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022 10:01PM
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School districts could face disciplinary actions if they refuse to implement New Jersey's new sex education standards, state officials said. Toni Yates has the story.

GARWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey school districts could face disciplinary actions if they refuse to implement New Jersey's new sex education standards, state officials said amid pushback from some school boards and county governments.

The new guidelines, which were adopted two years ago but are only taking effect now after a pandemic delay, have sparked outrage from some parents who believe the topics covered are not age appropriate for students.

They detail what schools should teach students by the end of second, fifth, eighth, and 12th grade, with the most controversial concepts revolving around lessons that discuss:

  • Gender identity for second graders
  • Puberty and masturbation for fifth graders
    • Understanding types of intercourse for eighth graders

    This week, the Department of Education issued a statement saying the New Jersey Student Learning Standards are mandatory to implement, and failure to comply can result in disciplinary action.

    State officials also reiterated that any parent who does not their child to participate must write a letter to the principal explaining that the instruction conflicts with their conscience or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs.

    While the state does set standards or expectations of what students should learn, it does not determine the curriculum or craft lesson plans.

    It remains up to the districts to choose instructional materials, and school boards are encouraged to get community feedback.

    Garwood's school district is one of several that have opted out of those lessons, saying the specific terminology is inappropriate and unnecessary.

    The standards are outlined on the NJ.gov website, and further details about what any disciplinary action would entail have not been elaborated upon.

    New Jersey uses what it calls the Quality Single Accountability Continuum as a mechanism to determine compliance, and any district found to be deficient is required to create an improvement plan to address the necessary indicators.

    An assessment is made of the district's capacity and effectiveness based on its compliance, and following the assessment, the district is placed on a performance continuum that will determine the level of oversight and technical assistance and support it receives.

    The Department of Education may also determine whether additional monitoring or intervention is warranted.

    Officials say the majority of the state's public school districts have adopted lessons according to the new standards.

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