AG: No parental consent needed for medical absence from school
A legal question on whether students can leave campus for medical appointments without parent consent was given an opinion by Attorney General Bill Lockyer to the likely relief of the El Dorado County Office of Education.
The opinion, released last week, sided with California’s Education Code that states no parental consent is needed when a student leaves school for private medical services, such as abortions.
Lake Tahoe Unified School District allows seventh through 12th-graders to leave campus without a parent’s consent for medical appointments. The term is included in the district’s Annual Notification of Rights that is sent to parents, guardians and students for the 2004-05 school year.
Since the 1986-87 school year, California’s Education Code 46010.1 stated school boards should annually notify students above sixth-grade that school officials “may excuse any pupil from the school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent” of the student’s parents or guardians.
Karen England, program director for Capitol Resource Institute, a parent advocacy group, was disappointed in Lockyer’s opinion.
England felt students should schedule such appointments after school and said parents should know any time their child leaves campus.
“We do not believe that school employees should have to know why a student is leaving school,” she said. “We certainly do not believe that they should be forced to keep secrets from a parent. If they have a permission slip, they can leave. If not, they should arrange for confidential matters outside of school.”
Almost a year ago Vicki Barber, superintendent of schools in El Dorado County, joined a few other county superintendents in asking Lockyer’s office to offer an opinion on the matter.
Barber could not be reached for comment.
Michelle Cannon, an attorney with the law office of Girard & Vinson, which represents the county education office, said the issue has created controversy in various California districts.
“This attorney general opinion finally gives some guidance,” she said.
The opinion, which basically is a notch below a court decision, stated a conflict with California law would occur if a district had a policy to require a parent’s consent to release a child from school for private medical services.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org