The Carson City school board this month approved changes to the rules of procedure for the Family Life Advisory Committee, although the discussion generated questions from the public about the group’s role to oversee specific materials included in its curriculum and concerns that there has been a lack of transparency with parents.
District director of equity in curriculum and instruction Cheryl Macy and committee chairperson Sheila Story, Carson High School’s chief nurse, presented changes to the FLC document at the board’s June 14 meeting for a second reading. Macy, Story, Trustees Richard Varner and Joe Cacioppo, district administrators and legal counsel met on May 25 to discuss edits to the document to ensure its alignment with legislative standards.
Macy said there were some concerns about not having certain hard copy materials available on the district’s website for community members to review because she wanted to make sure it was not violating copyright. A computer is set up in the Professional Development Center’s kiosk with a link available to access FLC materials.
Nevada Revised Statute 389.036 governs a school district’s establishment of a family life committee to advise it in the content and course materials related to the human immunodeficiency virus, reproductive system, related communicable diseases and sexual responsibility and recommended ages of the pupils to whom courses are offered, with final decisions on matters to be that of the school board members. Instructional materials used in courses are to be available to parents or guardians at reasonable times and locations, with associate superintendent of educational services Tasha Fuson stating Carson City’s resources have been available at the PDC’s kiosk.
“We do have an opt-in procedure saying (parents or guardians) support their student taking the class),” Fuson said, adding the intent is to be transparent.
Fuson said its list did have to be pared down after October 2021 due to new health standards approved and adopted by the state, saying certain resources that hadn’t been used in 30 years did not need to be left on the list.
Heather Koche, mother of a son in the district, said during public comment she felt “parents are being kept in the dark” when it comes to understanding health standards being taught in the classroom.
“Kids are having problems since the schools were locked down,” Koche said. “Parents should know whether our children are being sexualized. … I would like someone to do their job,” Koche said. “I hear about it not just from my son but from his friends.”
Resident Richard Nagel acknowledged that the NRS does mandate the public school system to be responsible for teaching these standards but said parents should assume a “rational decision” after reviewing what’s presented in the classroom.
“It’s the implementation that gets called into question,” Nagel said. “If you can’t give the information on the website, parents have no way of knowing what’s in the classroom and what impact it’s having on their child,” he said. “It’s just logical.”
Superintendent Richard Stokes explained the list of materials being called into question did not need to be approved at this meeting since the “work has already been done” by the committee.
FLC meetings are held six times per year with the ability to have special meetings as needed. If a teacher identifies a change to the digital resources, Story said the committee can review and present the list to the board annually as needed, per the discussion.
The motion to approve the rules of procedure as presented with changes made, including a curriculum list of previously approved materials by the committee, was approved in a 6-0 vote with Cacioppo absent.