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S.D. Unified Schools Change Pregnancy Policy

Editor's note: Host Gloria Penner stated that 25 percent of San Diego Unified School District's population are single moms. While it is not possible to verify this number, it is likely inaccurate. We should not have let an unsubstantiated figure go out on our air. We regret the error.

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Video published April 2, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: The San Diego Unified School Board unanimously voted to change its rules requiring parental notification if a student is pregnant or considering an abortion. We talk to Education Reporter Ana Tintocalis about why the city school district changed its rules, and the pregnancy policies that are in place in another local district.

Video
Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ_OSCvmI1M

Above: The teen pregnancy rate for students in the San Diego Unified School District appears to be much lower than the 25 percent we stated earlier.

GLORIA PENNER (Host): This week there were no public protests when the San Diego Unified School Board unanimously voted to change some sensitive rules regarding requiring parental notification if a student were pregnant or considering an abortion. KPBS reporter Ana Tintocolis fills us in on what happened. So Ana, how did the San Diego Unified School District change its policies on students leaving campus to obtain confidential medical services?

ANA TINTOCALIS (Reporter): Well there were laws on the books in San Diego Unified that said that if a school worker found out that a student was pregnant or was considering, that school worker whether it’s a nurse, counselor or teacher, would be required to tell the parent or the principal at the school. In addition to that, if a student wanted to leave campus to obtain a confidential medical service pertaining to their reproductive health, they would first have to get their parents' permission to leave campus to do so. All that has changed now to where a student's pregnancy is kept confidential between a school worker and that student. Students also now, if they want to obtain confidential medical services, they can do so without their parents' permission during school hours.

PENNER: What qualifies as a confidential medical service? What are we talking about?

TINTOCALIS: Right, so a confidential medical services can pertain to reproductive health issues such as STD tests or prenatal care.

PENNER: STD, sexual transmitted disease…

TINTOCALIS: …Sexually transmitted diseases. It could also apply to if a student is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse problems; they can leave campus to get services to take care of that or counsel them through that as well as mental health issues. So it deals with those types of confidential medical services.

PENNER: This seems like a major change. Why did they change the policy?

TINTOCALIS: Well, in fact, in California, there is a state law that really protects the privacy of minors. And so the district was trying to fall in line with that state law that protects minors' privacy. There's also a state attorney general's opinion on the matter saying students do have these rights and schools need to change their laws to fall in line with these decisions. However, the issue with this is that some school districts decide not to revise their policy and let the policy stand as it is, meaning parents have a say-so in the matter. For example in Vista Unified, they decided not to revise their policy and just kinda stick to the law that was on the books that basically did not allow students to leave campus to get confidential medical services without their parents' permission.

PENNER: So is Vista clearly a violation of state law now?

TINTOCALIS: In its -- It also falls down on interpretations. A big camp of people say, yes Vista is violating the state law and they're opening themselves up to law suits. Vista will say, you know, it's our interpretation of the law; we're a local school district, we have authority in these matters and we're sticking by the policy that we feel really speaks to what parents want in the district.

PENNER: It's interesting, I heard just today that a 25 percent of San Diego Unified School District's population are single moms. So already, you do have a pretty large number of girls who have gotten pregnant. How will this new policy affect pregnant teens?

TINTOCALIS: So say if I'm a pregnant teenager and I'm afraid to tell my parents – and this is what these laws are really aimed to protect, students, teenagers who are afraid to tell parents because there's issues in the home. Whether it’s an abusive parent, a broken home, perhaps their parent would force them to have a child, perhaps their parent would force them to have an abortion. So, a student who is now pregnant now has the right to take matters into his or her own hands and say, this is what I'm going to decide to do, it's going to be kept confidential, and they might be more comfortable telling a nurse or counselor or their teacher in the matter. So it gives them more protections.

PENNER: Considering the major uproar we've had recently over the health care reform and the abortion issues there, why has – let's put it this way, what has the public response been to this change?

TINTOCALIS: Well it's quite interesting as you said, there was no public outcry in San Diego Unified, I was expecting some controversy quite frankly, but I think it's because they schools are on Spring Break. So you have a lot of families just kind of spending time on their own, distracting themselves away school district matters. So that is part of the reason. When I reported on this issue initially in Vista, there was a huge public outcry. There were parents coming to the school board meetings, saying how dare you say that my not tell me these very important decision. So I think it was a matter of timing, but I also think it’s the nature and culture of a school district. Some school districts are more conservative in nature than others and San Diego Unified is increasingly becoming a more liberal district in many of its policies.

PENNER: Well I thank you very much, Ana Tintocalis.

TINTOCALIS: Thank you.

Comments

Avatar for user 'djbabyk'

djbabyk | April 2, 2010 at 10:32 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

"PENNER: It's interesting, I heard just today that a 25 percent of San Diego Unified School District's population are single moms. So already, you do have a pretty large number of girls who have gotten pregnant. How will this new policy affect pregnant teens?" - This is about the worst quote I have ever heard! Gloria is saying that one in four students (both male and female) is a single mom in our school district? Please publish a correction to this!

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Avatar for user 'MoonChild02'

MoonChild02 | April 7, 2010 at 2:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

WTF?!!! Why are we JUST hearing about this? Why was no one told? I would like an answer please! Parents need to know what is going on in their children's lives! Kids can be arrested for taking aspirin to school without a parent's permission (I remember the rules quite clearly, as I remember being one of the first classes the drug dogs were used on - and they did specify that aspirin and tylenol were illegal to have on campus and was an arrestable offense), but they don't need permission to get an abortion, which is a dangerous, invasive medical procedure?!!!! THIS IS BEYOND WRONG!!!

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Avatar for user 'Natalie Walsh'

Natalie Walsh, KPBS Staff | April 8, 2010 at 3:02 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Editor's note: Host Gloria Penner stated that 25 percent of San Diego Unified School District's population are single moms. While it is not possible to verify this number, it is likely inaccurate. We should not have let an unsubstantiated figure go out on our air. We regret the error.

Cindy Grossman, Program Supervisor for SANDAPP (San Diego Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting Program) which provides services for SDUSD, writes: "SANDAPP offers case management services to pregnant and parenting youth throughout the County of San Diego. We annually serve 1,700 pregnant and parenting youth, including young moms and dads, and their children. As of today, we are currently providing case management services to 844 pregnant and parenting youth residing within San Diego County. Of these, 170 attend SDUSD schools, thus representing 20% of the pregnant and parenting youth served specifically by SANDAPP are SDUSD students. This is a county-wide statistic, not a school district statistic."

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Avatar for user 'carlsbad'

carlsbad | April 8, 2010 at 6:05 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Abdicating responsibility as parents is never acceptable. Are there bad parents? Of course, but to use the broad brush of condemning parents as incompetent or irrelevant in the decisions and crisis their children face is outrageous.

The state is an accomplice to the deterioration of American society as it embrace subjective, situational ethics and refuses to reinforce and strengthen the role of parents in the lives of their children.

You can always count on California to lead the way to create chaos and generations of self serving citizens.

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Avatar for user 'vivianan'

vivianan | April 15, 2010 at 8:04 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Wow, I can't believe this article I just read. As a parent to three children of the San Diego Unified School District, I am disgusted that this is even allowed. If I am correct we are still responsible for our children until they are 18, so explain to me why we wouldn't be told as their guardian that they are pregnant or need medical treatment for drug abuse??????

See, to me there is no explanation, I would be beyond what words can explain angered if I ever found out that the school district kept something like this from me. I would definitely take them to court. I understand that some children our in bad situations and can't go to the parents, so I guess the question is why isn't something being done to help them out with their home situations? Why aren't the parents being punished for being abusive or have an unstable home for their children or why isn't their help for these children in whatever they are lacking at home?

If I would have heard of this sooner, I would have been at whatever meetings their were to fight this and trust I am sure that I could have rallied up many parents who felt the same way. I know this from personal experience, I was a teenage single mom and I think parents should be made aware of the situations. Sure my parents were angry but we got through it. I needed that support from them and needed them to push me to continue on the right path to my life ahead. They made me be responsible for my actions but I was still a kid and I needed my family more than the schools or programs because at the end of the day, I would be coming home to them and they were still guiding me being that I was so young. Get it, too young to make the right choices for myself without my parents......which mind you, know me better than anyone had at that point in my life.

Yes there may be some kids who have bad situations at home but, why not start finding ways to help them and stop taking the parents rights away to be aware of what is going on with THEIR OWN CHILDREN. I still can't believe this, I don't feel comfortable with my children at their schools anymore.

Sincerely,

Mother of children from SDUSD

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