Apr 5, 2012 10:01 PM by Jacqui Heinrich
A new bill requiring schools to get parental consent before giving surveys to kids is now on the governor's desk waiting to be signed into law, but the end product is far from the original proposal.
Bill supporters wanted written consent before asking kids about things like tobacco and drug use and sexual practices, saying the surveys used for decades by the Health Department are inappropriate. "It's somewhat amazing that we would ask students to self-incriminate without any guidance of an adult," Rep. Chris Holbert, the bill's sponsor said.
Public health officials strongly opposed the measure, fearing such an action would cripple their ability to measure kids behavior and create programs to keep them safe. "This is about keeping our children healthy, and the way that you keep children healthy is to identify things that impact health in a negative way," Dr. Bernadette Albanese, Medical Director of the El Paso County Health Department told News 5.
The bill passed with amendments that make it somewhat meaningless; although technically parents need to give the 'okay' before their kids get surveys, schools aren't required to tell parents they need their consent. They also don't have to tell teachers about the mandate, meaning employees could potentially distribute surveys without knowing they're breaking the law. Even more complicating, students can choose to take the tests without ever letting their parents know.