imgMARCH 17, 2014

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BY LORI ARNOLD, RESEARCH ANALYST

For several decades, schools and government programs hailed the benefits of training children about the real threats of “stranger danger.” The phrase fell out of favor, however, when researchers found that the catchy slogan confused children, who too often let their guard down around dangerous people they already knew.

As America’s families have changed—with more and more fatherlessness, drug-fractured homes, and the advent of the Internet age—children are often exposed to many more threatening opportunities than those espoused by the simple “stranger danger.”

To safe guard constituents, lawmakers often initiate bills that they believe keep our children safe. Though admirable, sometimes their legislative approach overreaches. Sometimes the resulting danger is even worse than the problem they try to solve. Other times, the proposals strike just the right chord.

Two bills that we support are designed to provide vital safety nets for kids. Assembly Bill (AB) 1432 (Gatto D- Burbank) is one of several that address mandated child abuse reporting at schools. The main provisions of the Gatto bill requires the California Office of Education to develop and disseminate reporting guidelines for detecting child abuse and neglect to all schools. Additionally, AB 1432 requires that all school employees be trained annually on these mandatory reporting requirements. We like Gatto’s bill because, unlike the others, it targets all school employees, not just teachers. AB 1432 will be heard March 26 in the Assembly Education Committee.

Another child safety bill, Senate Bill (SB) 1177 (Steinberg D-Sacramento) would close loopholes that allow schools’ online service providers to data mine the information they collect on students. In addition to prohibiting such data collection outright, Steinberg’s bill would also require encryption programs to be used with student data and (in some instances) require the deletion of confidential student information to protect privacy. SB 117 has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee and is also scheduled for a March 26 hearing.

While we support those two bills, we are monitoring three others that deal with education, but we believe to be problematic for families and religious freedom.

Although SB 840 (Lara D-Long Beach) sounds beneficial, we have concerns about this “anti-bullying” bill on two fronts: its language and its counseling components. Despite similar bills already on the books, Lara—with the support of the homosexual lobby group Equity California—has proposed even more protections by requiring: training for prevention and incident response; counseling referrals; and mandatory reporting (regardless if the episode led to suspension or expulsion).

Though labeled as “educational equity,” the bill does not specifically include religion on its list of target characteristics, which included “disability, gender, gender identity, race, or sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of the specified characteristics.”

Whether this is intentional or simply an oversight, this omission is troubling. Recent history has shown that— despite clear constitutional protections of religious freedom—the rights of students who identify as gay, lesbian or transgender often trump the rights of those students who adhere to Scripturally-based sexual mores.

Further, the bill, which has a hearing before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, would provide procedures to refer students to counseling services, but makes no mention of parental notification or consent. It is true that schools can be a useful resource to help parents in the educational development of the children. Beyond that, though, parents are the ultimate arbiter over what is in the best interest of their own children and schools should honor that.

Because the role of the parent is so vital, we are also monitoring two other school bills that could have potential red flags, AB 2167 and SB 1055, both dealing with student health.

AB 2167 (Muratsuchi D-Torrance) expands an existing health survey on students and would grill children on issues relating to “health risks and behaviors.” Language in the bill makes no reference to parents or an opt-out clause, protections we feel are critical when polling children on personal matters. Muratsuchi bill will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on March 26.

Finally, SB 1055 (Liu D-Glendale) relates to grants associated with health centers at public schools. In her bill, Liu refers to Obamacare provisions crafted to reduce the long-term costs associated with “high-risk health behaviors, such as mental health disorders, substance abuse and teen pregnancy.”

Like SB 840 and AB 2167, Liu’s bill contains no mention of parental protections. Coupled with existing health privacy laws, we are concerned schools will use these tools to shield parents from critical medical information involving their children.

  • While some of CFA’s critics may try to dismiss our fears as merely alarmist or paranoid, our concerns are steeped in solid, but unfortunate history.
  • In California, students may leave campus without their parent’s knowledge for medical treatment—including surgical abortions.
  • In 2005, a federal appeal court in California ruled that parents’ rights do not “extend beyond the threshold of the school door.”
  • That case involved a lawsuit by seven parents who took exception to an explicit sex survey that was given to their children, some as young as first grade, without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
  • The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act signed into law in 2011 as SB 48, mandates that students as young as kindergarten be taught about gay and lesbian issues and prohibits any subject matter that reflects negatively about the LGBT community. The law provides no opt-out clause for parents.

Yes, indeed, sometimes the danger comes from within. Please continue to support CFC and CFA as we stand for truth and freedom in Sacramento.

 

Actions, week of March 10

AB 1585 (Alejo D-Salinas) Human trafficking.
CFA’s assessment: Support.

Expunges prostitution records for victims whose convictions were related to human trafficking. We like the provision requiring that the defendant complete probation prior to being eligible because it shows a commitment to restoration.

Summary: Similar in scope to AB 1887 (Campos D-San Jose), this bill would provide that if a defendant has been convicted of solicitation or prostitution and has completed any term of probation for that conviction, the defendant may petition the court for relief if the defendant can establish by clear and convincing evidence that the conviction was the result of his or her status as a victim of human trafficking, and would authorize a court to issue an order that (1) sets forth a finding that the defendant was a victim of human trafficking, as specified, (2) dismisses the accusation or information against the defendant, or orders other relief, and (3) notifies the department that the defendant was a victim of human trafficking when he or she committed the crime and the relief that has been ordered.

The bill would also exclude records of conviction for which the relief described above has been granted from the criminal records that may be disseminated for various purposes, including the full criminal record obtained in connection with an adoption application.

Passed Assembly Public Safety Committee, 7-0
To Appropriations Committee
Scheduled hearings: week of March 17

 

Wednesday, March 19

SB 840 (Lara D-Long Beach) Educational equity: local educational agency policies against bullying.
CFA’s assessment: Monitoring actual action.

Bill summary refers to bullying based on the criteria of disability, gender, gender identity, race, or sexual orientation, but does not mention religion.

Summary: This bill would require each local educational agency to develop and implement a policy against bullying, as specified, which includes, at a minimum, a procedure for referring victims of bullying to counseling, mental health, or other health services as appropriate, mandatory training for certificated employees on the prevention, and addressing, of bullying, and a procedure for the documentation of all incidents of bullying that take place within the local educational agency as well as the responsive actions taken, if any.

In Senate Education Committee

 

Scheduled hearings: week of March 24

Tuesday, March 25

AB 1775 (Melendez R-Murrieta) Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act: sexual abuse.
CFA’s assessment: Monitoring.

Adds the downloading of obscene materials involving children to the list of sexual exploitation violations.

Summary: Existing law, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, defines sexual abuse as sexual assault or sexual exploitation for purposes of mandating certain persons to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. Under the act, sexual exploitation refers to, among other things, a person who depicts a child in, or who knowingly develops, duplicates, prints, or exchanges, a film, photograph, video tape, negative, or slide in which a child is engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct, except as specified. Failure to report known or suspected instances of child abuse, including sexual abuse, under the act is a misdemeanor.

This bill would provide that sexual exploitation also includes a person who knowingly downloads a film, photograph, video tape, negative, or slide in which a child is engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct.

Assembly Public Safety Committee

 

AB 1887 (Campos D-San Jose) Prostitution: human trafficking: sealing and destruction of arrest records.
CFA’s assessment: Monitoring.

Expunges prostitution records for women whose convictions were related to human trafficking. We prefer the language, however, in AB 1585 (Alejo D-Salinas).

Summary: Similar in scope to AB 1585 (Alejo D-Salinas), this bill would authorize a person to petition a court to set aside a conviction for an offense relating to solicitation or prostitution, as specified, based on a finding that the person is factually innocent of the charge if the person is a victim of human trafficking and the offense is a result of the petitioner’s status as a victim of that crime. In that case, the bill would require the court to order the records of the arrest to be sealed and destroyed, and to take other action appropriate under the circumstances or as justice requires.

The bill would also provide that a finding that the petitioner is factually innocent pursuant to this provision shall be admissible as evidence in a civil action brought by the petitioner, or his or her estate or representative, against an individual or entity for damages arising from the individual’s or entity’s alleged involvement in human trafficking.

Assembly Public Safety Committee

AB 1577 (Atkins D-San Diego) Certificates of death: transgender decedent.
CFA’s assessment: Oppose.

Ignores biological gender at birth on official death documentation.

Summary: This bill would require a person completing the certificate of death to record the decedent’s gender as that reported by the informant, unless the person completing the certificate is presented with a legal document that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition, in which case the document would control. The bill would grant immunity from liability for costs or damages arising from any claims based upon a person entering a decedent’s gender as required by this bill.

Assembly Health Committee

 

Wednesday, March 26

SB 1177 (Steinberg D-Sacramento) Privacy: students.

CFA’s assessment: Support. Closes loopholes that allow online vendors to data mine information collected on children through online services provided for students.
Summary: This bill would prohibit an operator of an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application with actual knowledge that the site, service, or application is used for K-12 school purposes and was designed and marketed for K-12 school purposes from using, sharing, disclosing, or compiling personal information about a K-12 student for commercial purposes. This bill would require an operator of an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application with actual knowledge that the site, service, or application is used for K-12 school purposes and was designed and marketed for K-12 school purposes to ensure that specified encryption processes are used, to provide a notice to the operator of a secondary site, service, or application that is accessible through the noticing operator’s site, service, or application that their secondary site, service, or application is used for K-12 school purposes on a site, service, or application designed and marketed for K-12 school purposes, and to delete a student’s personal information under specified circumstances.

Senate Education Committee

 

AB 1432 (Gatto D-Burbank) Mandated child abuse reporting: school employees: training
CFA’s assessment: Support.

Requires the state to develop and disseminate reporting guidelines for detecting child abuse and neglect to all schools, and further requires that all school employees be trained annually on the mandatory reporting requirements.

Summary: Similar in scope to AB 2016 and AB 2560, this bill would require the State Department of Education, in consultation with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the State Department of Social Services, to develop and disseminate information to all school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools, and their school personnel in California, regarding the detection and reporting of child abuse, to provide statewide guidelines on the reporting requirements for child abuse and the responsibilities of mandated reporters, and to develop appropriate means of instructing school personnel in the detection of child abuse and neglect and the proper action that school personnel should take in suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

The bill would further require school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to annually train school personnel on the mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect, as specified, and would require these employees to submit proof of completing this training to the applicable governing board or body of the school district, county office of education, or charter school within the first 6 weeks of each school year.

Assembly Education Committee

 

AB 2016 (Campos D-San Jose) Teachers: mandated child abuse reporting: training.
CFA’s assessment: Monitoring.

Requires teachers to complete mandated child abuse reporting every two years. We prefer the language in AB 1432 (Gatto D- Burbank), which requires annual training of all school employees, not just teachers.

Summary: Similar in scope to AB 1432 and AB 2560, this bill would require, on or after January 1, 2015, the holder of a teaching or services credential issued by the commission to complete an approved training program, as specified, by January 1, 2016, and every 2 years thereafter, in the duties imposed on mandated reporters, as specified. The bill would require the holder of the credential, as part of his or her application to renew his or her credential, to submit verification to the commission that he or she has complied with the training requirement.

Assembly Education Committee

 

AB 2167 (Muratsuchi D-Torrance) Pupils: California Healthy Kids Survey.
CFA’s assessment: Monitoring

While we firmly believe schools should be safe environments for students and staff, the proposed surveys offered through this bill cross into muddy territory that will grill children on issues relating to health risks and behaviors.

Summary: This bill would establish the California Healthy Kids Survey as a comprehensive pupil self-report data collection system that addresses school climate, campus safety, and pupil health risks and behaviors. The bill would authorize school districts to administer the survey biennially to pupils in certain grades, and would also authorize a school district to conduct 2 supplemental surveys, the California School Parent Survey and the California School Climate Survey.

The bill would specify that funds shall be appropriated to the department in the annual Budget or other statute to administer the survey, provide technical assistance, and collect data, as specified. The bill would specify that, to the extent that funds are appropriated to the department for these purposes, the department also shall administer and make available to school districts the California School Climate Survey and the California School Parent Survey.

Assembly Education Committee

 

SB 1055 (Liu D-Glendale) Public School Health Center Support Program.
CFA’s assessment: Monitoring.

The bill mostly deals with grants associated with the school-based health centers. But, in keeping with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the centers will developing new strategies to deal with “high-risk health behaviors, such as mental health disorders, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy, that significantly impact health care costs later in life.” Because of health privacy laws we are concerned students will be treated without parental notification.

Summary: The bill would provide funding for the expansion and renovation of existing school health centers. The bill would change the amount of the sustainability grants that are available pursuant to the program to between $50,000 and $100,000, but would make those grants available on a one-time basis and would revise the purposes for which they may be used. The bill would also authorize population health grants in amounts between $50,000 and $125,000 for a funding period of up to 3 years, as specified.

Senate Health Committee

 

Monitoring for potential action
Veto overrides

AB 375 (Buchanan, D-San Ramon) School employees: Dismissal or suspension.
Passed Assembly, 64-11
Passed Senate, 25-13
Passed Assembly 52-22, concurrence
Governor vetoed
Assembly floor, veto reconsideration, no action

AB 714 (Wieckowski, D-Fremont) Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund.
Passed Assembly, 68-3
Passed Senate, 39-0
Governor vetoed
Assembly floor, veto reconsideration, no action

 

Assembly Inactive File
(Ready for floor vote, requires one-day notice to call for vote)

SB 473 (Block, D-San Diego) Human trafficking.
This bill would add human trafficking as offenses that may be used to establish a pattern of criminal gang activity. Because this bill would amend Proposition 21, the bill requires a 2/3 vote.

Because this bill would change the definition of a crime and require a higher level of service from local prosecutors in pleading and proving the enhancement, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
Passed Senate Public Safety Committee, 7-0
Passed Senate Appropriations Committee, as amended, 7-0
Passed Senate, 39-0
Passed Assembly Public Safety, 7, as amended-0
Passed Assembly Appropriations, as amended, 17-0

Talking points:

  • Widens the definition of a “a pattern of criminal gang activity” to include human trafficking.
  • Provides law enforcement with another tool to get human traffickers off of the streets.
  • Further limits access to areas where minors gather for those who have been convicted of sex trafficking offenses.

 

SB 323 (Lara, D-Long Beach) Taxes: exemptions: Prohibited discrimination.
This bill would revise the Sales and Use Tax Law exemption for those organizations, as provided. This bill would also provide, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, that an organization that is a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation is not exempt from the taxes imposed by that law.

This bill would include a change in state statute that would result in a taxpayer paying a higher tax within the meaning of Section 3 of Article XIIIA of the California Constitution, and thus would require for passage the approval of 2/3 of the membership of each house of the Legislature.

Passed Senate, 39-0
Passed Assembly Public Safety, as amended, 7-0
Passed Assembly Appropriations, as amended, 17-0
Passed Assembly Judiciary, 6-3
Passed Assembly Appropriations, 12-5

Talking points:

  • Punishes nonprofit youth organizations and schools for their moral and religious beliefs.
  • Elevates the cultural “rights” of homosexuals above religious liberties as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and, by doing so inflicts its own type of discrimination.
  • Sets the state up as the purveyor of what type of thought is acceptable.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, has affirmed the right of nonprofit organizations to exclude from membership anyone who impacts the group’s private viewpoints.
  • The bill is the first-step toward stripping such groups of property tax exemptions and status as a charitable organization.

 

Senate Inactive File
(Ready for floor vote, requires one-day notice to call for vote)

AB 496 (Gordon, D-Los Altos) Medicine: Sexual orientation, Gender identity, and gender expression.
This bill would require the licensed Task Force on Culturally and Linguistically Competent Physicians and Dentists members and advocate task force members to provide health services to, or advocate on behalf of, members of language and ethnic minority groups and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups. The bill would require the task force to report its findings to the Legislature and appropriate licensing boards by January 1, 2016.

This bill would additionally require the program to address lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups of interest to local medical societies. The bill would require the training programs to be formulated in collaboration with California-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender medical societies. The bill would also redefine the term “cultural and linguistic competency” and understanding and applying the roles that culture, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression play in diagnosis, treatment, and clinical care.

Passed Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee, as amended, 10-1
Passed Assembly Appropriations Committee, 12-5
Passed Assembly, 54-20
Passed Senate Business, Professions & Economic Development Committee, 8-2

Talking points:

  • Uses taxpayer funds to force “Cultural and Linguistic Competency” over LGBT issues on physicians and dentists.
  • Contains no opt-out clause for those who oppose the homosexual lifestyle on moral or religious grounds.
  • Adds state-mandated indoctrination upon medical entities, when the industry should be able to determine what type of cultural instruction is best suited for their own business.
  • Establishes and promotes another protected class for homosexuals.

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