The Hawaii Board of Education is expected to take action on two big — and possibly contentious — policies Tuesday.

Proposed changes to the BOE’s sex education policy would make it mandatory for public schools to offer comprehensive and medically accurate sexual health education in certain grades.

The Department of Education currently approves sex ed curriculum, but leaves it up to individual school administrators to decide whether or not to offer sex ed.

The policy change was discussed by the BOE in April, but temporarily tabled after the board faced significant pushback from several conservative state legislators and numerous parents.

Demonstrators holds signs in opposition to sex education in the schools at the Capitol. 24 april 2015.photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Demonstrators holds signs opposing sex education in public schools at a Capitol protest in April.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The DOE is now recommending a few modifications to the policy that may placate parental concerns, including changing the grades in which sex education is to be offered to grades 7 through 12, and requiring that parents have to sign their children up for the course.

The way the policy had been written, children would have automatically been registered for sex ed and then parents would have the option of opting them out of the class.

Hawaii schools that currently offer sex ed have followed an “opt-in” policy for the last year, ever since the controversy over the University of Hawaii’s Pono Choices curriculum.

Hawaii is one of just 10 states that does not currently mandate students be provided access to sex education or taught about HIV/AIDS in public schools. The state also has the 10th-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the nation, and the 12th-highest rate of chlamydia infections, according to the Department of Education.

Misconceptions about what the policy would do abounded among many of those present at the meeting.

The other big policy up for consideration is aimed in part at reducing school suspensions.

The School Climate and Discipline policy  would require schools to create school climate goals, define the role of any school-based law enforcement officers, and work to reduce suspensions.

“Schools should remove students from the classroom as a disciplinary consequence only as a last resort and only for appropriately serious infractions,” the policy states.

Before school administrators issue suspensions, they would have to document in writing their reasons for suspending the student.

The BOE delayed voting on the discipline policy last month after receiving complaints that school administrators had not been sufficiently consulted.

The BOE meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. at 1390 Miller St. Room 404 in Honolulu.

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