What options are available to me as a parent or guardian?
Specific options are available for opting out are available here. As far as whether the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO-DESE) who oversees student education has mandates where your child receives education instruction, you have the right to have your child attend a public school full time and yet opt-out of certain curriculum areas (classes) such as Health/Sexual Education. It also means a parent can privately instruct their child in certain classes such as Health/Sexual Education.
How do I opt my child out of a lesson or a unit of the Health course?
When opting out of a single lesson or a single unit, communicate with your child’s health teacher and counselor. Requesting a syllabus is recommended so that you understand when certain topics are scheduled to be taught. As a parent you must decide if you feel the content areas are acceptable and how those themes will affect your child. Sometimes the school will send you a disclosure letter/email (telling you that the sex ed content will be covered soon). Sample opt out letters are available to send to your teacher, counselor and principal.
On the day(s) your child will opt out, the teacher will provide your child with a PINK PASS at the beginning of each class period. You child will then be directed to sit in the library. Please note that although your student will not be learning about that topic in class, there is no guarantee a fellow student will not ask a question or elicit discussion related to that content area during a later Health unit.
Parkway does not have a board policy to create replacement instruction. In other words, it is up to teacher and building discretion whether they give your child material to read or papers to complete in that content area or whether your child sits in the library or sits in the hall during that instructional time. You might want to look at options for ways to get alternative instruction in this content area.
Are we, as parents/guardians, able to opt our child out of the entire Health course?
Yes, you are able to opt your child out of the entire Health course. See below for instruction at elementary, middle and high school levels.
For Elementary and Middle School:
Students are not required to take Health in the state of Missouri. The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) dictates to the district that they shall give elementary students a minimum amount of time in certain electives. For instance they are instructed in physical education to give 50 minutes each week plus one 20-minute recess per day. That is a mandate for the district, not for parents. For more information on requirements and minutes of instruction for various subjects visit the Minutes of Instruction link on MO-DESE’s website.
That same MSIP dictates to middle schools that each student will receive instruction in certain subjects such as health and physical education. In middle school, “Physical education is scheduled and taught to all students for a minimum of 3,000 minutes each year.” Health and Safety will be taught for a minimum of 1,500 minutes each year. This is a mandate for the school district.
Therefore, parents can opt their children out of health/sexual education without worrying about losing physical education instruction for their children. Parents may, however, have to make that clear to the district – that they want to keep PE instruction but opt completely out of Health/Sexuality Education.
Some schools are considering integrating health and PE throughout the year and will make the final decision for that mid-June. If you do not wish to opt out of health AND PE, please make your voices heard and contact your building principal.
For High School:
Missouri law states in order to graduate from high school, a student must have ½ credit (1 semester) of Health. This mandatory course can, however, be satisfied outside of the public school system – for example, with a health curriculum through Gateway Health Connections or one done at home. The student will receive acknowledgement they have satisfied the state criteria for that content area. They will not, however, receive Parkway’s credit for that class. Students might need to take an extra elective to ensure they have the state mandated 24 credits to graduate.
What affect will this last minute schedule change have on my child’s fall schedule?
Parents have been told varying accounts across the district, however, it is important to communicate what your intentions are for the fall:
- I intend to opt my child out of the entire course but I am not homeschooling them during the school year (See sample opt-out letter).
- I intend to opt my child out of the entire course & I plan to provide outside teaching of that content over the summer. (See sample opt-out letter).
- Please contact your building principal for answers specific to your school. Some schools are considering integrating health and PE throughout the year and will make the final decision for that mid-June. If you do not wish to opt out of health AND PE, please make your voices heard and contact your building principal.
Do I need to notify the school that my middle schooler/ high schooler will complete an outside class by the time school starts in August?
You are not mandated to inform the district of your decision to complete an outside health course. However, it would be helpful to inform your district so they can plan their upcoming class sizes. Sample notification letters for opting out may be found here.
Who do I contact about opting my child out of the entire sex ed course?
You would contact your child’s health teacher, counselor and building principal. It is important that all these staff members know your child will not be participating.
What are Parkway’s Board policies on opting out and homeschool?
Parkway School District’s Policies & Guidelines may be found on the District’s website. Even though a policy title may be listed on the index, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Parkway has a policy under that title. For a summary of some of Parkway’s policies and guidelines, click here.