Middletown, NJ, schools to defy state on sex-ed classes
The Middletown School District will reportedly adopt an opt-in approach to teaching sex education classes in the Fall.
It's a policy that appears to be in direct defiance of the Murphy administration's directives on the controversial new standards.
While many districts say they will offer the option to opt children out of sex education classes, in Middletown children will not be allowed to attend the classes unless a parent or guardian expressly, and proactively, allows it.
The Middletown Board of Education is expected to approve the new standards later this month, and will then hold a series of informational sessions for parents that will include a questions and answer period.
School officials say they are confident the new policy will satisfy the concerns of parents.
Jessica Alfone, assistant superintendent of curriculum, told Patch their goal was total transparency.
"It is our goal to ensure that our parents/families have comfort and confidence in the content being addressed," Alfone said, "But will also have the ultimate decision-making ability in determining what is best for (their) child."
By telegraphing how they intend to address the new sex education standards, the district is inviting the scrutiny of the New Jersey Department of Education.
If the DOE decides the opt-in approach is in violation of state education policy on this matter, the district could face punishment, including the loss of state aid.
When state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, suggested the new curriculum standards should serve as more of a "guideline," the DOE was harsh in it's response and warned any district not in strict compliance could face sanctions.
The new standards require kids to be taught (at varying grade levels), gender diversity, sexual feelings, masturbation, the definitions of vaginal, oral and anal sex. Many parents have expressed concerns about the age appropriateness of new standards.
In Middletown, the district is gambling the Murphy Administration will not challenge their approach.
Alfone says their policy will be "compliant with state standards, but also wholly age-appropriate for our students at each grade level."