OCEANSIDE — The controversial sexual education program for transitional kindergarten through sixth grade will be modified, according to officials from the Oceanside Unified School District.
The program, known as the three Rs — or Rights, Respect and Responsibility — has been temporarily suspended.
Last week, the district presented its findings from a survey circulated among staff, parents and community members. However, some staff and residents questioned the validity of the results, saying opposition to the sex education program disbursed the survey to people who do not live in Oceanside, have children attend OUSD schools or who are against the program due to religious purposes.
Vicki Gravlin, the district’s senior director of academic excellence and innovation, said there is no current plan to recirculate the survey. She said the matter will be brought before new superintendent Dr. Julie Vitale and wait for direction.
“The intent behind it was just to get an overview of both staff and community feedback,” Gravlin said. “That is the area with greatest discussion around it. We can’t confirm 100 percent that the individuals who responded were truly parents or guardians because it was an open-ended survey. It was a barometer for the community to see how they were feeling about the curriculum … and understanding.”
In the meantime, Lisa Contreras, district director of communications, said the curriculum will be redesigned.
The issue is a source of contention between residents and parents. Many spoke during last week’s Board of Education meeting, with opinions from both sides.
Many who support the curriculum said the opposition is targeting LGBTQ and same-sex marriage curriculum, although the district said it has not received any such communications.
However, according to the curriculum posted on the Oceanside Unified website, much of what is taught to younger students concerns issues like the structure of a family and how to treat people.
“The biggest concern that we found from the survey was it was too much, too soon,” Contreras said. “So that was the biggest concern we heard from individuals we talked to … as well as what we got from the survey.”
Moving forward, the district will reintroduce a modified version and include additional training for teachers. The TK-6 curriculum is not mandated through the California Healthy Youth Act, which requires sex education at least once in middle school and at least once in high school.
As a comprehensive K thru 12-school system, Oceanside Unified elected a comprehensive approach to sexual health education that included instruction to students in grades K-6. Parents may opt out of the TK-6 curriculum.
As for opting in or out with the redesign, Contreras and Gravlin said the district has not made a determination yet.
Contreras said feedback from parents and community is why the TK-6 curriculum was suspended. Prior to the suspension, Gravlin said portions of the curriculum had been edited and rolled out to schools that decided how to instruct it.
As for claims the curriculum it is not medically accurate, Gravlin said it was previewed by medical professionals and followed protocols to ensure its accuracy. Some components were brought back and re-evaluated based on physicians’ expertise.
“There is a layout of lessons that need to be taught and we’re looking at the impact at each grade level and how we roll those out,” Gravlin said.
At times, the issue has become contentious. One man last week said Ann Corwin, the board president, threatened him during a previous meeting for his opinion. However, Contreras said one person was asked to leave for harassing and interrupting those voicing opposing viewpoints.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.