Changes to Round Rock ISD sex education curriculum put on hold

The Round Rock ISD board of trustees is postponing a decision on whether to modify the district's sex education curriculum for eighth-grade students.

The proposed list of changes, which had been recommended by the district's School Health Advisory Council, was pulled from the agenda for the Nov. 15 board of trustees meeting prior to any discussion or vote.

Earlier in the week, district officials realized there could be a problem with how the SHAC was formed, said JoyLynn Occhiuzzi, the district's executive director of community relations.

"As we looked further into the committee, we realized they were not appointed by the board," Occhiuzzi said.

SHAC members are required to be appointed by the board, she said. SHAC reviews anything health-related for the district, such as physical exercise, food served in schools or sex education, she said. Occhiuzzi said the district does not know at this time how members ended up serving on the council.

"I don't have all of those answers yet," she said. "Unfortunately, when we identified a pretty significant procedural error in the formation of the committee, we looked at the work as a whole, and if there was problem in how it was started, we didn't want there to be any questions on their recommendations."

Despite the board's decision to remove the topic from the agenda, several residents took the opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed curriculum changes at the Nov. 15 meeting.

"I come tonight because I have an issue," said Cheryl Vernon, a Round Rock resident of 29 years. "Education is the key. Kids learn—why not let them learn the right way?"

Vernon said she has served on many committees within the district in the past.

"If teaching them how to wear a condom is part of this program, then I say so be it. I am all for this program, as long as you let parents opt out."

Recommended changes to the curriculum included adding a lesson on contraception that would include an explanation of the different types of contraceptives, such as condoms, spermicides, intrauterine devices, emergency contraception, vaginal rings, natural family planning, withdrawal method, abstinence, birth control pills, patches and injections.

The current curriculum includes lessons on sexually transmitted diseases, puberty, anatomy, health risk behaviors, developing communication and refusal skills, and healthy relationships. RRISD has received about six emails from parents who did not support the proposed sex education curriculum changes and about four to six emails from parents who did support it, Occhiuzzi said. Some Round Rock district residents also wrote to the district expressing their discontent with the decision to pull the topic from the agenda, she said.

RRISD Superintendent Jess Chvez said no changes to this year's sex education curriculum will be made. Should any changes be made in the future, parents will have the option to opt their children out.

"The main reason is that as we looked at our process, we went back to look at whether we had any records of committee members appointed by the board, and we just did not find that," Chvez said. "That had been called to attention by some external individuals outside of the district, but that had also been noticed here in the district, so because of that we wanted to be sure that we did follow the state law, we did follow the policy."

Occhiuzzi said the existing health council will be dissolved, and information about selecting new members will be available in the coming weeks. A new health council will assess the current curriculum in January or February, and if approved by the board, changes would take place in the 2013–14 school year, she said.

"One of their first tasks will be to review what we have in place," Occhiuzzi said. "The school board will ultimately have the authority to accept or deny [the council's] recommendation."

Criteria for becoming a council member includes living in the community, taking an interest in student health and the ability to attend meetings, which are held four times each year. Council meetings are open to the public.

"The criteria is not so rigid that people don't qualify," she said.

By Lyndsey Taylor
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lyndsey began working as a reporter for the Northwest Austin edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2012. During her time as a reporter, she has covered Round Rock ISD, health care in the Austin metro area and Austin Community College. She was promoted to editor of the Cedar Park| Leander edition in 2015 and covers city and education news, including Leander ISD.


Austin Police Department
UPDATE: Loop 360 closed in both directions in Northwest Austin due to a shooting incident

Residents who live in the Arboretum area in Northwest Austin are advised to shelter in place.

The Texas Department of Transportation has scheduled a nightly lane closure for RM 620 southbound motorists beginning April 18 through April 22. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TxDOT lane closure scheduled for RM 620 beginning April 18

The right lane of RM 620 southbound will be closed due to utility work.

Early voting for the May 1 election opens April 19 at a 7 a.m. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early voting in Austin opens April 19: See what’s on the ballot, where to vote

City residents will be making decisions on eight propositions ranging from whether to adopt a strong mayor government system to whether to reinstate public camping bans.

The RealReal in Domain Northside
Luxury resale shop The RealReal opens first Texas store in North Austin

The RealReal offers high-end brands at a discounted price through consignment and resale.

The Pushing for Justice Caravan for Javier Ambler was held in San Gabriel Park on Aug. 15. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Javier Ambler’s Law awaits Texas Senate approval

The bill passed the House on April 15.

Austin transportation officials said April 15 the range of corridor construction program projects initiated through the city's 2016 Mobility Bond remain on track for completion by late 2024. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Several Austin corridor mobility projects moving forward in 2021, program on track for 2024 completion

Transportation officials said some corridor program improvements previously planned along Guadalupe Street and East Riverside Drive are being reduced ahead of Project Connect expansions.

Round Rock ISD trustees voted to maintain the district's mask policy that requires masks on school property. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Mask policy remains in place for Round Rock ISD

A motion that would have lifted part of the district's policy failed.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Teachers in Round Rock will receive a 1% pay increase for the 2021-22 school year. (Photo courtesy Round Rock ISD)
Teachers in Round Rock ISD to see 1% salary increase for 2021-22

The increase will cost the district roughly $4.6 million and is included in the proposed budget.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Williamson County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
New coronavirus cases continue to be reported even as vaccinations ramp up in Williamson County

Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County.

Austin FC supporters celebrate the official announcement of the team in January 2019. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
How, where to watch historic first Austin FC match April 17

Check out this list of breweries, pubs and restaurants around Central Texas that are hosting watch parties for April 17's inaugural Austin FC game.

Z'Tejas' chorizo dumplings are served on the Arboretum location's porch. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Z'Tejas to open in Avery Ranch; butcher, deli to open in Dripping Springs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.