1998 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Carter, Johnson (19th), Jordan (24th), Nunnelee, Scoper, Stogner, Dickerson, Burton
Senate Bill 2931
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-79-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT ABSTINENCE EDUCATION SHALL BE THE STATE STANDARD FOR ANY SEX-RELATED EDUCATION TAUGHT IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND TO AUTHORIZE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS TO DEVIATE FROM THIS CURRICULUM ONLY BY VOTE OF THE SCHOOL BOARD; TO CLARIFY THE NOTIFICATION GIVEN TO PARENTS RELATING TO SEX EDUCATION PRESENTED TO THEIR CHILDREN BY PUBLIC SCHOOLS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 41-79-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-79-5. (1) There is hereby established within the State Department of Health a school nurse intervention program, available to all public school districts in the state.
(2) By the school year 1998-1999, each public school district shall have employed a school nurse, to be known as a Health Service Coordinator, pursuant to the school nurse intervention program prescribed under this section. The school nurse intervention program shall offer any of the following specific preventive services, and other additional services appropriate to each grade level and the age and maturity of the pupils:
(a) Reproductive health education and referral to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, which education shall include abstinence, as specifically provided for in subsection (12);
(b) Child abuse and neglect identification;
(c) Hearing and vision screening to detect problems which can lead to serious sensory losses and behavioral and academic problems;
(d) Alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse education to reduce abuse of these substances;
(e) Scoliosis screening to detect this condition so that costly and painful surgery and lifelong disability can be prevented;
(f) Coordination of services for handicapped children to ensure that these children receive appropriate medical assistance and are able to remain in public school;
(g) Nutrition education and counseling to prevent obesity and/or other eating disorders which may lead to life-threatening conditions, for example, hypertension;
(h) Early detection and treatment of head lice to prevent the spread of the parasite and to reduce absenteeism;
(i) Emergency treatment of injury and illness to include controlling bleeding, managing fractures, bruises or contusions and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);
(j) Applying appropriate theory as the basis for decision making in nursing practice;
(k) Establishing and maintaining a comprehensive school health program;
(l) Developing individualized health plans;
(m) Assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating programs and other school health activities, in collaboration with other professionals;
(n) Providing health education to assist students, families and groups to achieve optimal levels of wellness;
(o) Participating in peer review and other means of evaluation to assure quality of nursing care provided for students and assuming responsibility for continuing education and professional development for self while contributing to the professional growth of others;
(p) Participating with other key members of the community responsible for assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating school health services and community services that include the broad continuum or promotion of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention; and
(q) Contributing to nursing and school health through innovations in theory and practice and participation in research.
(3) Public school nurses shall be specifically prohibited from providing abortion counseling to any student or referring any student to abortion counseling or abortion clinics. Any violation of this subsection shall disqualify the school district employing such public school nurse from receiving any state administered funds under this section.
(4) Each local school district of this state may apply for a school nurse intervention program. State administered funds shall only be available on a 50-50 matching basis, and subject to appropriation by the Legislature, with the local school district providing its local contribution from nonminimum program funds. However, school districts with an ad valorem assessed value per student of less than Seventeen Thousand Dollars ($17,000.00), according to the most recent ad valorem assessed valuation, shall not be required to make a local contribution to the cost of the program. In order to be eligible for such program, each district desiring to participate shall apply to the State Department of Health by May 31 before the beginning of the applicable fiscal year. Such applications shall be on forms provided by the State Department of Health. The local school governing board and the county health department shall mutually determine their school nurse intervention program within the previously determined state guidelines. The State Department of Health shall determine by July 1 of each succeeding year which local school districts have submitted approved applications for school nurse intervention programs. This subsection (4) shall stand repealed from and after July 1, 1999.
(5) Beginning with the 1997-1998 school year, to the extent that federal or state funds are available therefor and pursuant to appropriation therefor by the Legislature, in addition to the school nurse intervention program funds administered under subsection (4), the State Department of Health shall establish and implement a Prevention of Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program to be located in the public school districts with the highest numbers of teen pregnancies. The Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program shall provide the following education services directly through public school nurses in the pilot school districts: health education sessions in local schools, where contracted for or invited to provide, which target issues including reproductive health, teen pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, HIV and AIDS. When these services are provided by a school nurse, training and counseling on abstinence shall be included.
(6) In addition to the school nurse intervention program funds administered under subsection (4) and the Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program funds administered under subsection (5), to the extent that federal or state funds are available therefor and pursuant to appropriation therefor by the Legislature, the State Department of Health shall establish and implement an Abstinence Education Pilot Program to provide abstinence education, mentoring, counseling and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity, with a focus on those groups which are most likely to bear children out-of-wedlock. Such abstinence education services shall be provided by the State Department of Health through its clinics, public health nurses, school nurses and through contracts with rural and community health centers in order to reach a larger number of targeted clients. For purposes of this subsection and as more specifically provided for in subsection (12), the term "abstinence education" means an educational or motivational program which:
(a) Has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
(b) Teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children;
(c) Teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems;
(d) Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
(e) Teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;
(f) Teaches that bearing children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents and society;
(g) Teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances; and
(h) Teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
(7) Beginning with the 1998-1999 school year and pursuant to appropriation therefor by the Legislature, in addition to other funds allotted under the minimum education program, each school district shall be allotted an additional teacher unit per every one hundred (100) teacher units, for the purpose of employing qualified public school nurses in such school district, which in no event shall be less than one (1) teacher unit per school district, for such purpose. In the event the Legislature provides less funds than the total state funds needed for the public school nurse allotment, those school districts with fewer teacher units shall be the first funded for such purpose, to the extent of funds available.
(8) Prior to the 1998-1999 school year, nursing staff assigned to the program shall be employed through the local county health department and shall be subject to the supervision of the State Department of Health with input from local school officials. Local county health departments may contract with any comprehensive private primary health care facilities within their county to employ and utilize additional nursing staff. Beginning with the 1998-1999 school year, nursing staff assigned to the program shall be employed by the local school district and shall be designated as "health service coordinators," and shall be required to possess a bachelor's degree in nursing as a minimum qualification.
(9) Upon each student's enrollment, the parent or guardian shall be provided with information regarding the scope of the school nurse intervention program. The parent or guardian may provide the school administration with a written statement refusing all or any part of the nursing service. No child shall be required to undergo hearing and vision or scoliosis screening or any other physical examination or tests whose parent objects thereto on the grounds such screening, physical examination or tests are contrary to his sincerely held religious beliefs.
(10) A consent form for reproductive health education shall be sent to the parent or guardian of each student upon his enrollment. School superintendents shall notify parents at least one (1) week in advance of any instruction or other presentation on human sexuality in their children's classrooms, assemblies or other official settings. This notification shall inform the parents of their right to request the exclusion of their child from such instruction or presentation. It must also inform them of their right and the appropriate process to review the curriculum and all materials that will be used in the lesson or presentation. At a parent's request, the school must excuse the parent's child from such instruction or presentation, without detriment to the student. If a response from the parent or guardian is not received within seven (7) days after the consent form is sent, the school shall send a letter to the student's home notifying the parent or guardian of the consent form. If the parent or guardian fails to respond to the letter within ten (10) days after it is sent, then the school principal shall be authorized to allow the student to receive reproductive health education. Reproductive health education shall include the teaching of total abstinence from premarital sex and, wherever practicable, reproductive health education should be taught in classes divided according to gender. All materials used in the reproductive health education program shall be placed in a convenient and easily accessible location for parental inspection. School nurses shall not dispense birth control pills or contraceptive devices in the school. Dispensing of such shall be the responsibility of the State Department of Health on a referral basis only.
(11) No provision of this section shall be construed as prohibiting local school districts from accepting financial assistance of any type from the State of Mississippi or any other governmental entity, or any contribution, donation, gift, decree or bequest from any source which may be utilized for the maintenance or implementation of a school nurse intervention program in a public school system of this state.
(12) Abstinence education shall be state standard for any sex-related education taught in public schools. Deviation from this standard shall be allowed only if the local school board votes to do so, in which case a specific curriculum must be voted on by that school board. Schools shall also be allowed to host programs for parents to learn how to talk to their children about abstaining. Abstinence education is any type of instruction or program which, at an appropriate age:
(a) Teaches the social, psychological and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity, and the likely negative psychological and physical effects of not abstaining;
(b) Teaches the harmful consequences to the child, the child's parents and society that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have. This should include the health, educational, financial and other difficulties the child and its parents are likely to face, as well as the inappropriateness of the social and economic burden placed on others;
(c) Teaches that unwanted sexual advances are irresponsible; teaches how to reject sexual advances; and teaches how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances;
(d) Teaches that abstinence from sexual activity before marriage, and fidelity within marriage, is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases and related health problems. The instruction or program may include a discussion on contraceptives, but only if such discussion includes a factual presentation of the risks (failure rates, diseases not protected against, etc.) of those contraceptives. In no case, however, shall it include any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied;
(e) Teaches the current state laws related to sexual conduct, including forcible rape, statutory rape (and related laws), paternity establishment, child support and homosexual activity; and
(f) Teaches that a mutually faithful, monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.
It is not necessary that every component listed above be included in every program or instruction on the subject. However, no program or instruction may include anything that would contradict the excluded components.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.