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Marble Falls ISD advisory council to review human sexuality curriculum

The Marble Falls Independent School District’s School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) will begin a review and recommendation process for the district’s human sexuality curriculum. During a meeting Monday, Nov. 15, the school board adopted a resolution allowing the review to start.

Every school district in Texas is required to have a SHAC, which can make recommendations on policies and curriculum on topics such as health education, drug prevention, human sexuality, and mental health. 

Although the state only requires a council to meet four times a year, MFISD’s council, which is made up of about 50 members, including parents, students, and staff, meets on a monthly basis. Membership is split among each district campus to ensure diverse representation. 

“Coming into this year, we will have new health and wellness standards set forth by the state that we are required to teach,” explained Yarda Leflet, executive director of Instructional Services and the council’s district employee co-chair. “The job of SHAC is to learn those standards and then to look at our policies, procedures, and strategies as related to those standards and make recommendations.” 

Currently, the district uses the abstinence-based Baylor Scott & White Wellness and Sexual Health curriculum, which was previously called Worth the Wait. The curriculum is undergoing its third revision, which is why the review is needed, explained Heather Metzgar, executive director of Secondary Education and the council’s second district employee co-chair. 

“We need to (review and recommend curriculum) for two different reasons,” she said. “One reason is that the current materials we are using are going through their own update. Because SHAC adopted them originally and they are changing, we would need to get approval to make changes. The second is, since there are new (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) next year that include additional things related to health and sexual wellness, we would have to go ahead and adopt new materials anyway.” 

As stated in the resolution adopted by the school board, the committee will hold at least two public meetings, which will likely take place in February and March, to discuss the curriculum before presenting its recommendations to the board. Recommendations must be made to the school board by April 19, 2022. 

This year, legal guidelines changed to require that councils record and post their meetings in an accessible location for public review and transparency, Leflet said during the meeting. The meeting schedules, agendas, recordings, and minutes can be found under the Curriculum and Instruction tab of the MFISD website

The council currently has three parent-member vacancies, two from Highland Lakes Elementary and one from Marble Falls Elementary. Those interested in volunteering should fill out the SHAC application form found on the district website

“SHAC is a great committee to serve on,” Leflet said. “It is a challenging committee. No one ever agrees on every topic. That conflict gets us to a better place where we can have consensus on what we believe is best for all students in Marble Falls ISD while meeting the state standards.” 

brigid@thepicayune.com