School Board Agrees: No Condom Use Education for East Lansing’s 6th Graders

Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 9:02 am
By: 
Karessa Wheeler

The East Lansing Board of Education Monday approved an updated curriculum for sexual health education for fourth, fifth and sixth graders which will not include an optional section on the use of condoms.

Mary Ellen Vrbanac, Director of Sex Education for the District, told the Board the Sex Education Advisory Board had reviewed and approved updates to the fourth, fifth and sixth grade curriculum titled “Puberty: The Wonder Years.” They also reviewed four optional lessons for sixth graders and approved the use of 6A and 6B which focus on genetics, and 6C which focuses on refusal skills.

“They did not recommend 6D which covers condom use. They felt as a Board they needed more public input before that lesson was placed in the sixth grade,” Vrbanac said.

In response to a question from Trustee Kate Powers, Vrbanac said that condom use is covered in the 7th grade curriculum.

Also, 8th grade students are currently not receiving any sex ed, but the Committee is reviewing the schedule to allow the lessons to continue in 8th grade, Vrbanac said.

The Board of Education also approved the use of the “I Wish” video in the high school sexual health education curriculum. Created by the United Way of Jackson County in 2015, the video “offers a window into the life of teen parents.” Vrbanac said the goal of the video is to reduce the rates of teen pregnancy and keep teens focused on their personal educational goals.

There were no public or Board comments on either the updated curriculum or the video.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, parent Mike Conlin, a former candidate for the Board of Education and professor of economics at Michigan State University, asked the Board why it had chosen to use the State’s revolving loan fund for the District’s proposed bonds. He believes the District may be able to find a better deal if they shop the bonds around to underwriters. The District is asking voters to approve a $94 million bond to rebuild five elementary schools and remodel a sixth.

Conlin said that the Bond Committee was told by a colleague of his that the District should not go through the State’s revolving loan fund. He also expressed concern that a bond underwriter donated $1,500 to the previous bond support campaign prior to the last bond election in 2012. That bond failed to pass.

Trustee Powers told Conlin that the District was told to use the revolving fund because its credit rating was the same as the State’s rating.

In other action, the Board:

·       Renewed the food service contract with Chartwells School Dining through June 30, 2018.

·       Approved Acting Superintendent Dori Leyko’s contract. No details on the contract were given.

·       Was told that the East Lansing Education Association, the District’s teachers union, has voted to support the District’s bond request.

Present at the meeting were Karen Hoene, Erin Graham, Nell Kuhnmuench, Kate Powers, Hillary Henderson and Yasmina Bouraoui. Absent was Nichole Martin.