Parents can expect the use of consistent standards in all district schools for opting-in and opting-out of programs, events, or activities. Under no circumstances will students intentionally be made to feel different, nor will parents choosing to exercise their right to opt-in or -out be criticized for their decision.
Opt-out (parent request required for nonparticipation) applies to the Board-adopted curriculum and related activities that occur regularly or as a matter of course. Opting-out always requires a showing of a bona fide reason, to avoid compulsory attendance issues. Replacement classes or activities may or may not be provided at the school's sole discretion.
Parents shall be notified by the school about upcoming programs, events, or activities in sufficient time and detail to allow time to opt-out if desired. Subject to district and state graduation requirements and the compulsory school attendance laws, parents may exercise the right on behalf of their child to opt-out of:
- Physical education upon written request from the child's physician stating the reason for the inability to participate
- Parties or holiday activities
- Board-adopted curriculum
- Student use of the Internet for research related to the curriculum
Curriculum adopted by the Board is the official curriculum of the district and comes under the opt-out category. Schools will make their best efforts to identify and notify parents of the teaching materials or methods of instruction in upcoming curriculum that may reasonably be foreseen to offend the moral, ethical, religious, or political conscience of individuals, allowing adequate time for parents to review materials and opt-out if desired.
Student use of the Internet for purposes of research and retrieval of current information related to curricular content areas is a generally accepted practice and is considered an essential instructional tool, thus it comes under the opt-out category. Schools will inform parents of the opportunity to opt-out of Internet use through commonly used channels of communication.
Where there is doubt as to whether a program, event, or activity is opt in or opt-out, opt-in procedures shall be used.
Opt-in (parent permission required for participation) pertains to school offerings that are not part of the Board-adopted or approved curriculum, are not required by law to meet compulsory attendance or credit standards, and are not generally accepted regular matters of course within the school year. For all opt-in offerings scheduled to take place during regular school hours, replacement classes or other alternatives will be provided for students who do not opt-in. District employees will provide timely notice to parents about opt-in programs, events, or activities so parents can make an informed decision aobut whether their children will participate. Children will not be allowed to participate in the following programs, events, or activities without parent permission:
Activities having a potential for increasing liability to the district, e.g., field trips, ropes course, jump rope for life, athletics, dispensing medication.
Programs, activities, or materials that can be reasonably interpreted as containing religious messages, instruction in values, or controversial moral or ethical principles, or that may result in an invasion of the student's or family's privacy, e.g.:
- Name in the school directory
- Playground mediation training
- Programs on death, dying, divorce
- Educational movies with a PG or more restrictive rating for elementary schools; PG-13 or more restrictive rating for middle schools; and R or more restrictive rating for high schools
- Unrated visual materials, and/or other media that may be reasonably foreseen to cause offense to some individuals, and are not part of the Board-approved curriculum
Programs where opting-in is a requirement of the law, e.g., special education or any federal program covered by PPRA, supra.
One-to-one or group counseling situations when counselors, social workers, or psychologists are involved with elementary or middle school students, except as required for compliance with state and federal laws concerning the education of students with disabilities, compliance with child abuse and neglect reporting obligations, in emergency situations wherein there is a bona fide concern that the student's safety or health is in jeopardy, and when discussing academics or discipline problems.
Current policies that specifically refer to opting-in and -out of programs and activities include the following: IHAIA; IHAM; IHAM-R; IJOA-R; IMA; IMBB; JLDAC; JRA/JRC.
Opt-in/opt-out procedures were originally discussed by the Board of Education in 1995, and last updated in 2000.