The Alpine School Board may revise its proposed AIDS education policy because of complaints from parents who are concerned that the curriculum for upper-grade levels will include information about condom use and homosexual acts.
Diane Robison told the board that she wants assurances that all of the district's teachers will follow the AIDS instruction policy carefully. But Superintendent Steven Baugh said that although teachers will be carefully prepared there is no guarantee they all will present the material exactly as policy directs."I suppose we have the same guarantee we have in other classroom situations - just a very capable, responsible classroom teacher who has training," Baugh said. "We need to trust that they will keep their answers (to students' questions) brief, appropriate and suited to the age. They recognize that we're supplementing and complementing the home and not taking the place of the home, but I guess I'd have to say that there's not a 100 percent guarantee."
The AIDS proposal is an amendment to Alpine's existing sex education policy. Board members began discussing the change early in September and allowed the public to address the issue during a public meeting Tuesday at Manila Elementary School in Pleasant Grove.
Though the proposed policy had been scheduled for a vote during the Oct. 11 board meeting, Baugh said that would be postponed if board members are uncomfortable with it.
There were plenty of uneasy parents Tuesday. About 13 spoke against various parts of the policy, and though some praised the board for its sensitivity about the issues, no one voiced complete support.
When one parent asked how many in the audience didn't want AIDS taught in school at all, four people raised their hands. Baugh reminded them that the AIDS curriculum has been mandated by the State Board and Education and the Legislature.
Chris Walton, a high school student who serves as a representative to the board, said the mandate is a positive thing and parents should not try to keep vital information from students.
"A great number of the students are concerned because information about AIDS is not available readily. I can't find anything about it at school," he said. "It's a major health concern, and it's a major concern for students. There are a lot of rumors and hearsay that we don't have enough to balance. When an issue is that critical, we need to have something done about it."
If the policy is approved, students would learn a great deal about AIDS. Teachers would discuss several issues in class, depending on the grade level.
For instance, senior high school students would be told that condom use can prevent spread of the disease, but contraception would not be discussed. Third-graders would learn that it's relatively difficult to contract AIDS and scientists are working to discover a cure for the disease. Students in grades nine through 12 would be told how AIDS is transmitted and how it can be treated and prevented.
Parents would be asked to sign consent forms before their children are allowed to participate in the AIDS discussion.
But some parents aren't satisfied with the option of keeping their children out of the classroom. Norma Strain told the board that AIDS shouldn't be discussed, and regardless of precautions teachers will not give uniform instruction.
"Everybody has different feelings, and things are going to happen," she said. "When it's done in each separate class, there's just no way you can keep tabs on that."
Information about AIDS may be taught in human anatomy classes, health, biology, home economics and physiology, Baugh said.
The proposed policy says programs may take place separately for boys and girls and may include special speakers and suitable films. It encourages administrators to involve parents in the selection of qualified speakers and encourages parents to attend and participate.
Parents would be able to review the lesson plan when teachers schedule sex education lectures, Baugh said. Parents would have the option of pulling their children out of the classroom without the students being penalized academically.