by Steven Ertelt
January 3, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — After backing down from an opinion saying parents can’t be told about their teenage children leaving school for "confidential medical services," such as an abortion, Attorney General Bill Lockyer is defending his initial statement.
In early December, Lockyer said a state law allowing schools to release students for confidential medical purposes without parental consent prevents school districts from letting parents know when such a medical release occurs.
Later, in an interview with a radio station, Lockyer admitted the law is "ambiguous" and said the state legislature should clarify it.
Then, in a December 30 interview with the Fox News Channel, Lockyer defended his original position saying "it’s those small number of instances where it might be a result of rape or incest that the child is probably not going to talk to a parent about the situation, and needs some way to seek help."
Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute took issue with Lockyer’s reasoning. She said the law doesn’t need to be changed — only that Lockyer is misinterpreting it.
"This is a new opinion concerning long existing statutes. And the opinion is just plain wrong," England said.
Regarding rape and incest circumstances, England said "the law is clear that the obligation of school personnel is to report these problems to the authorities, not to encourage the child to leave school."
England said the most recent remarks conflict with Lockyer’s radio interview in which he indicated that school districts that notify parents when their teenage sons or daughters leave campus for such medical treatment should not be concerned about facing lawsuits from the state.
"We are not encouraging districts to be renegades and ignore the law," England said. "We know that the legislature and the courts have never said what Lockyer is saying."
School districts wanting to protect a parents rights have approved or are examining policies allowing parents to know when their children leave school.
In September, the Rocklin Unified School District became the latest to pass a provision that limits students’ ability to leave school to obtain medical treatment without parental knowledge.
The West Covina Unified School District has maintained such a parental involvement policy for more than ten years.
Mike Spence, president of the West Covina district, opposed Lockyer’s original opinion.
"This is simply a regurgitation of the arguments that we have shot down time and time again," Spence said.
Scholars at the Pacific Justice Institute, who Lockyer consulted for a second opinion, say the law is not a requirement but merely allows schools to prevent parents from knowing. It does not prevent school districts from issuing policies that contradict the statue.
Related web sites:
Capitol Resource Institute – https://www.capitolresource.org