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U.S. News

New Mexico: ACLU Cries Foul Over Rio Rancho Sex Ed Policy

March 1, 2007

The New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is considering legal action against the Rio Rancho District School Board for a vote the union contends violated state sex education curricula requirements and involved a conflict of interest, ALCU-NM officials said Tuesday.

On Jan. 22, the board voted 4-1 to approve an abstinence-only curriculum, contrary to state requirements of a broader sex education curriculum, said ACLU-NM. In addition, school board member Kathy Jackson is a registered lobbyist for the abstinence curriculum she and the board chose, Best Choice Educational Service. Her husband Kevin, Best Choice's executive director, is also an abstinence program lobbyist registered with the Secretary of State's office.

"It would appear there is a conflict of interest whereby Kathy voted for a policy not only in violation of state regulations but also one that benefits an organization she works for," said Peter Simonson, ACLU-NM's executive director.

Kevin Jackson said Kathy, whose term on the board ended this month, has not lobbied for Best Choice this year and is registered as a lobbyist in error. "There was nothing improper here," he said. "One of the reasons she chose not to run for re-election is that we don't want to control our city. We're just servants."

Several board members had questioned whether the federally supported abstinence-only program violated state regulations requiring comprehensive sex education for grades 7-12, including discussions about contraceptives and STDs.

Kris Meurer, director of the state Education Department's School and Family Support Bureau, said the agency would give noncompliant districts a deadline by which to become compliant with state standards.

Back to other news for March 1, 2007

Adapted from:
Albuquerque Journal
02.27.2007; Michael Gisick

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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