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BOE split on sex education policy changes from state

(Sept. 1, 2022) The Worcester County Board of Education met on Tuesday, Aug. 16 for a regular scheduled meeting, where they accepted several policy revisions.

Dr. Annette Wallace, the chief safety and academic officer for the school district, told board members many of the policies were reformatted over the past two years and reviewed by department coordinators.

The policies brought forward were just some of the revisions and more are expected to be submitted for review at a later date.

Some of the policies approved pertained to adult education programs, physical education, and athletic programs for students with disabilities, and family life and sex education.

Sex education

A modification to the family life and sexual health education programs mandated by the state was approved by the board, though not unanimously.

Wallace introduced the policy, and to be transparent said, the revisions were being mandated by the state and were not brought forward by board members because they thought it was a good idea to make a change.

Worcester Schools provides family life and sex education to students in grades 5-9 and is intended to represent all students regardless of ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, according to the policy.

Parents may have their children opt out of family life and sex education, the policy states, though menstruation must be taught in an alternative setting.

According to Wallace, the parents can only opt out of the menstruation portion for reasons approved by the State.

Another modification to the policy is that anyone who teaches family life or sex education must be health certified. In the past, the two courses were taught by physical education teachers, which according to Wallace, is different from being health certified.

Board President Elena McComas questioned the details and wanted to know if parents could opt out at any time.

When it came to a vote, McComas and Board Member Nate Passwaters voted against the policy revisions. Still, the changes passed.

The policy revisions can be found on the district’s website at under the meeting agenda.

Adult education programs

In 2009, adult learning and the division of workforce development were transferred from the Maryland State Department of Education to the Department of Labor.

Now, 13 years later, the district is updating its policy to reflect the change with regards to who manages the program.

Board members unanimously approved the revised policy.

P.E. for disabled students

A school policy that ensures all students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in physical education programs and try out for athletic programs was modified slightly to address adaptive physical education programs.

According to the definition provided in the new policy, adaptive physical education refers to the idea that the delivery of service is adopted while behaviors are adaptive. So, a physical education program can be adaptive to meet the needs of a student with a disability through modifications and accommodations. Also, adaptive physical education is not a setting, but instead is a service.

It is the responsibility of the student’s Individualized Education Program, or IEP, team to determine the student’s needs, according to the policy.

The board voted in favor of the slight modification.