Sexually Explicit Content Notification Policy Heads to School Board Vote

The School Board with new members Tiffany Polifko (Broadrun) and Erica Ogedegbe (Leesburg) at the Nov. 15 meeting.

Policy 5055, the proposed requirement for advance parental notification of sexually explicit school materials is set for a final round of debate and a vote by the School Board on Nov. 29.

The policy was presented during Tuesday night’s meeting after the Curriculum and Instruction Committee unanimously voted to send it to the full board Nov 9. 

After some discussion, Chair Jeff Morse (Dulles) decided it wasn’t ready to be placed on the consent agenda at the next meeting, and instead put it as an action item to allow for more discussion before the policy is adopted.  

During Tuesday’s discussion, John Beatty (Catoctin) raised questions about how to policy would affect classes like art history, as well as how the policy applies to existing classroom library materials.

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Neil Slevin said a key phrase in the definition is “lewd nudity” and not just simply nudity and said statues or artworks would likely not fall into the requirements of the policy, but that some other art may need to be reviewed. 

Slevin said library materials did not fall under the policy, but are governed by Policy 5045, which sets procedure for the selection, review and challenge of educational materials and will be reviewed in the spring. However, if a teacher were to create a list of books they recommended for a particular unit for students to read and if any of those books were deemed to have sexually explicit content then the teacher would be required to let parents know.

Tiffany Polifko (Broad Run) expressed frustration over the order the policies were being discussed.

“One of the problems we have with Policy 5045 is that right now there is no clear definition for what those materials are, and they are in our schools. While I understand that what’s in the library may not directly impact this policy because it may not be included in assigned classroom instruction, it’s very difficult to wrap my head around this because I feel like in some ways, we are putting the cart before the horse because we haven’t addressed that Policy 5045 issue,” she said. 

While acknowledging the new policy is being required by the state government, she said, “we are being asked to adopt a policy that basically states that this sexually explicit content is in our schools, may be in our schools, and it may be taught to your children, meaning my kids as well … and I’m being asked to approve a policy and essentially say, I’m OK with that content being in our schools and I personally am not.”

Slevin said the School Board has a Jan. 1 deadline to adopt Policy 5055 but assured her that Policy 5045 will be addressed. 

He said throughout the process of creating Policy 5055 and getting feedback staff members realized they have an opportunity to address many of the issues the community is having discussions about as they work through Policy 5045. 

The 2022 model policies were created after the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 656 in April to require the VDOE create model polices that notify parents about instructional materials with sexually explicit content. Policy 5055 was created to bring the school division into compliance with the law. All school divisions must adopt the policies by Jan. 1. 

The School Board will take up the policy on Nov. 29.

Teachers who intend to use instructional materials that contain sexually explicit content must notify parents by Dec. 1 to be compliant with the law. 

(2) comments

E.J.Lockwood

Apparently common sense now has a seat on the LCSB. Thank you Tiffany Prolifko.

timsmith

LCPS has too many policies that overlap & conflict with each other. It's becoming Theater of the Absurd. When I went to school, there were never so many attempts to micromanage teachers. Everyone just let the process of learning unfold in a natural way. Let's get back to basics & stop micromanaging teachers. After all, they earned an education degree & they're experts in the field. Happy Thanksgiving Loudoun!

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