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S.D. School Board Discusses Changing Pregnancy Policy

Audio

Aired 3/30/10

The San Diego Unified School Board will consider changing a district policy that notifies parents if their teenager is pregnant or wants an abortion. San Diego Unified's current policy requires school workers to tell a principal or parent if a student is pregnant or is considering an abortion.

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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.

The San Diego Unified School Board will consider changing a district policy that notifies parents if their teenager is pregnant or wants an abortion.

San Diego Unified's current policy requires school workers to tell a principal or parent if a student is pregnant or is considering an abortion.

The school trustees may change that rule at their Tuesday board meeting so that a student's pregnancy is confidential. Students would also be allowed to leave campus during school hours without parental permission to get confidential medical services.

San Diego Unified's attorney Mark Bresee says he understands why some parents would be upset, but he says the current policy actually violates state laws that protect a minor's privacy.

“Minors have a right of privacy on the same level as adults,” Bresee said. “I think ultimately it's a case of our constitution says what it says. We are trying to make sure our practices and our written polices and procedures comply and are consistent with the laws.”

However, the Vista Unified School Board purposefully voted against revising a similar policy about a year ago despite those state laws. School trustees said parents rights trump the rights of minors.

David Blair-Loy, with the American Civil Liberties Union, says school districts like Vista are opening themselves up to lawsuits. He says some teenagers don't tell their parents they're pregnant because they're too afraid of the consequences.

“The evidence shows that those young people, those teenagers who can consult their parents safely will most often do so, but those who don't often have a very good reason for not doing so, whether it's fear of parental abuse or fear of parental retaliation,” Blair-Loy said.

The San Diego Unified School Board is expected to make a decision on the matter as most families and school officials are on spring break.

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