ROCKVILLE, MD—The Board of Education of Montgomery County tonight voted 7-1 to set aside earlier curricular revisions concerning sexual variations in the health education program for Grade 8 and Grade 10, as well as the “Protect Yourself” video, and asked that new changes be developed by the superintendent of schools for review during the upcoming school year.
In addition, the Board also approved the reconstitution of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development. The terms of the 27 committee members were terminated with the Board’s action, and the Board thanked committee members for their “diligent service.” A new committee is to be appointed and organized.
The new revisions to the curriculum on sexual variations for the health education unit on family life and human sexuality will be developed without any of the teacher resource materials that were cited by the Court in a lawsuit now pending in federal district court. The Board, which reaffirmed its authority to oversee and determine the curriculum and materials of the Montgomery County Public Schools, specifically prohibited the use of those teacher resource materials with any curriculum.
“The Board remains strongly committed to a comprehensive health curriculum for our students, and we will continue to work diligently to ensure that our students receive the very best instruction in this important component of our educational program,” said Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Board of Education. “We look forward to receiving the superintendent’s recommendations.”
Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, was directed by the Board to “research, develop, and recommend” the new revisions on sexual variations, as provided under state law, and to use “professional educators” within the school system to complete this task during the 2005-2006 school year. The new advisory committee will be involved for review and consultation.
Both the pilot program and the video were suspended from implementation by Dr. Weast in early May.
“We have an opportunity now to move ahead with a fresh look at this curriculum,” Dr. Weast said. “The health education program deserves the same rigorous attention to a professionally developed sequence of studies that we would expect in all of our instructional areas.”
Last week, attorneys for the Board of Education entered into settlement discussions with representatives of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The talks began after both sides agreed to an extension of the temporary restraining order issued by a federal district court judge earlier this month. The restraining order now extends through December 31, 2005.