The Morning Report
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More than two years ago, San Diego Unified sought to change a controversial policy uncovered by voiceofsandiego.org that requires school staff to tell parents when they discover that a student is pregnant or considering an abortion.

The rules — and the idea of changing them — caused an uproar across the political spectrum. Then the whole idea was shelved.

But the school district is now rewriting the rules to state that information about student pregnancy is confidential. The newly proposed rules also say parents will not be notified if students wish to leave campus for confidential medical services such as abortions.

“This will give us clarity,” said Marge Kleinsmith-Hildebrand, who oversees HIV/AIDS prevention and sex education in the school district. “School staff will be able to support students and follow the Education Code and comply with school district policies and procedures.”

When the issue first arose, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union complained that telling parents about student pregnancies violates student privacy. School policies also didn’t allow students the freedom to leave campus for confidential medical care, flouting a 2004 opinion by the state attorney general.

An outside attorney from Irvine came up with a revised policy in 2007 that would allow school staffers to notify parents if doing so would “avert a clear and present danger to the health, safety or welfare of the minor student.” Civil liberties groups said it still violated the law. Social conservatives complained that it cut parents out of critical decisions about their children.

Board members nearly voted on a different policy that would have barred school staff from calling parents to tell them if their child was pregnant, allaying the complaints from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, but attorneys interceded and asked to revise it again.

But superintendents came and went, San Diego Unified replaced its attorney, and the issue didn’t come back before the school board for more than two years. The school board will weigh the proposed changes this Tuesday.

If it’s anything like last time, expect fireworks.

— EMILY ALPERT

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