Health Department institutes changes after major review of curriculum


Photo by Allison Ping

Nisha Malley

Students will no longer be able to earn health credits through the online health program offered by the Brigham Young University, following a lengthy review process of the district’s health curricula last school year.

Students who had already enrolled in or had been approved to take the class prior to this decision may complete the course. Those students must finish the BYU online health class by Sept. 1.

This was the direct effect of Gov. Jerry Brown signing assembly bill AB 329, the California Healthy Youth Act, in Oct. 2015, which required all California high school districts ensure that students receive comprehensive and up-to-date sexual health and HIV/AIDs prevention education. Brown also signed a separate bill to include instruction on sexual assault, violence, and the “Yes Means Yes” affirmative consent standard as part of sexual health education.When both bills went into effect in Jan. 2016, the BYU health program no longer complied with California state law.

BYU is a private university in Utah owned and operated by the Mormon church. As such, BYU is not subject to California laws.

“The new requirements have been incorporated into our MVLA health courses but are not reflected in the BYU health course,” Superintendent of Educational Services Margaret Navarro said in a statement. “HIV/AIDS and sexual health curriculum content is very important to the health of our students. To satisfy this law MVLA had to discontinue acceptance of the BYU health course because it does not satisfy the requirements of AB 329.”

According to MVHS health teacher Heather Boyle, the district began an intensive review process of the health curricula offered by the district after Gov. Brown signed the bill in October. This included the semester-long in-class health offered at MVHS, LAHS, and Alta Vista High School, in-class programs designed for Special-Ed students, as well as the online programs offered by BYU and MVLA Adult Education.

The district found that the in-class health curriculum was already in compliance with the new California state law, but neither of the online programs were.

In response, Navarro said the MVLA Adult Education’s online health program was revised over the last few months to be in compliance with AB 329.

I think that we were a whole lot better than a vast majority of the districts in the state,” Boyle said in reference to how the district handled the shift.

When Gov. Brown signed the bill in October, he provided districts with approximately only two months to adopt a new curriculum, a tall order for schools that can take up to several months to fully examine and revise their curriculum.

“Usually, there’s some kind of a transitional period given to get things in place,” Boyle said.

According to Navarro, all MVLA health classes now comply with state law.