The school board announced the appointments for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) on Family Life and Human Development at its Oct. 24 meeting, but disputes continue over the Board's decision to wait to appoint a representative of Citizens for Responsible Curriculum (CRC). The CAC will work with educators to review revisions to the school board's health education curriculum.
The Board of Education appointed all seats of the 15-member advisory committee except for the one position promised to the CRC. Due to a lawsuit against the school system earlier this year, CRC and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) won the right to each have a seat on the newly reformed sex-education panel. Both organizations share concerns over the previous health curriculum. At the time of the lawsuit agreement, each organization was given the right to identify its own CAC representative, said Citizens for Responsible Curriculum Director Michelle Turner.
A few weeks later, on July 27, the BOE approved a resolution excluding potential candidates who had served on past health curriculum committees. The Board also called for each community group to submit three candidates for each appointed seat.
The Board refused to accept Citizens's single candidate, Henrietta Brown, because she had served on the past committee, said Board Vice-President Charles Haughey. He added that the seat will remain open until the group provides a qualified candidate.
Citizens for Responsible Curriculum is considering its responsive action to the Board's denial of its nomination, said Turner. Within the last few weeks, the committee has met several times to discuss what it will do next, she said. Turner added that the group is bringing in a third party to provide input on the decision.
Appointments were originally scheduled to be made at the Oct. 11 school board meeting but were postponed because the Board wanted to wait for qualified nominations from CRC, PFOX and the Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MCR), said Haughey.
MCR was not aware that it needed two alternative nominations as of the Oct. 11 meeting, but the organization quickly complied and offered its three candidates, said MCR President Grace Lee.
Unlike MCR, Citizens for Responsible Curriculum and PFOX refused to submit three candidates for their CAC positions because they intend to abide by the original contract. "We have a binding settlement agreement with the school district and we will pursue any means necessary to see this happen," said Turner.
PFOX nominee Peter Sprigg, who is the vice-president for policy for Christian lobbyist organization the Family Research Council, was accepted by the Board, although the group only submitted one name.
Haughey said the nomination was approved because Sprigg met the qualification requirements and that the compromise was made to promote progress on the health curriculum. "I want to have us proceed to work on a curriculum to get it in place as soon as possible," said Haughey.
Based on the timeline provided by an Oct. 24 memo from Superintendent Jerry Weast, the CAC should hear recommendations made by professional educators for the health program's family life and human sexuality units, which will be presented to the CAC for review this February.
The recommendations will be brought to the Board in March for initial review and consideration.
The Blair community will have a voice in the advisory panel, as Blair parent Richelle Meer, representing the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice Maryland, was appointed onto the CAC.
Some members of the CAC do not support CRC's refusal to meet the Board's candidate requirements because they say that the CRC is too independent. CRC seems "to believe they don't have to follow the rules," said Jim Kennedy, CAC member and president of TeachtheFacts.org, a community and parent group in favor of the previously abandoned health education curriculum.
Monica Huang. Monica Huang is finally a HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR in the CAP program and is ready to move on to bigger and better things in life. Counting down the days until graduation and summer, Monica can be found hanging out with friends, watching TV, and dancing. … More »