The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board is scheduled to hear a presentation at Wednesday’s regular board meeting concerning what a parental notification policy could look like, according to the agenda posted to the district’s website on Thursday.
The meeting is set to be held at 7 p.m. in the Hart High School auditorium, rather than the district office, due to the anticipation of a large crowd of community members.
Wendy Wiles, an attorney with Atkinson, Anderson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, is scheduled to deliver the presentation on the parent notification policy, according to the agenda, which notes that “under the California Education Code (EC 35145.5), community members have the option to request the inclusion of an item on the agenda if it pertains to school district matters and meets specified criteria.” The agenda states that the topic has been requested by multiple community members.
“Her presentation will offer an overview of how various California school districts have considered ‘Parent Notification’ policies and include information on recent legal decisions,” the agenda reads.
Hart district board member Joe Messina, representative of Trustee Area No. 5, requested that the policy be added to the next agenda at the district’s Oct. 18 meeting. Board President Bob Jensen, who represents Trustee Area No. 2, said at the district’s Nov. 1 meeting that the item was withheld from the agenda due to safety concerns.
Multiple board members, including Messina and Jensen, advocated for the item to be added to the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting during their board reports at the Nov. 1 meeting.
During the public comment session at the Nov. 1 meeting, more than 40 speakers signed up for public comments. Some were current or former Hart district students advocating against the item being included on the agenda, and if it was, for it to be voted against.
One student argued that the policy would put LGBTQ students in danger of being publicly outed before they are ready to do so.
“This is truly about a total student health policy,” Messina said at the Nov. 1 meeting. “And not any one issue in particular.”
Other school districts across the state have tried to implement parental notification policies. In July, the Chino Valley Unified School District held a discussion on the topic that prompted state Attorney General Rob Bonta to issue a statement urging the district to protect the privacy of students.
“The protection of every student’s privacy and safety is of utmost importance, and that includes protecting their right to choose when, how, and with whom they share their gender identity. That is a personal decision for them, and them alone,” Bonta said in a news release.
Bonta later said in the release that the Chino Hills district should be creating an inclusive and safe environment for students. The release added that “any child harmed following such a mandatory parental notification could lead to potential liability for the school district.”
Bonta ultimately sued the district after the policy passed with a 4-1 vote.
Public comments for Wednesday’s Hart district meeting are set to be extended by Jensen to a maximum of three hours, according to the agenda. Each speaker will have two minutes to speak.
“Participants wishing to speak on this topic can check in at the parental notification comments kiosk located in the foyer to receive a numbered speaker card,” the agenda reads.
Those wishing to make further public comments can email [email protected] from 7 p.m. on Wednesday until 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Jensen urged the community to not bring “external people” to this discussion at the Nov. 1 meeting, saying the board would like to “hear from our community, not from those who are not affected by our decisions.”
No action is set to be taken at the meeting on the topic, according to the agenda, as “this is an information item only.”
The agenda also says that the board will hear from John Minkus, president of the Hart District Teachers Association, and Janice Dennington, president of the California School Employees Association Chapter 349, as the HDTA continues to negotiate with the district for a new contract.