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Superintendent Woods sent the following.
Here is what we sent to the Gwinnett School System:
March 14, 2023
Superintendent Dr. Calvin Watts and Members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education:
Recently, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) announced that the district was exploring the option of adopting a new health education curriculum, including an embedded new sex education program.
In district communications with the public, it was stated that this move was designed to better align with the new Health Education standards adopted by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). This public statement coupled with concerns expressed to me by local citizens encouraged the engagement of my office in this process.
I greatly appreciate the willingness of your school district to provide GaDOE with both your current sex education program and the proposed curriculum. Upon review, the following has been determined:
1. A comprehensive crosswalk has not been provided for all lessons/topics in the proposed curriculum aligned with the state-approved standards. Upon an initial review, there is content in the proposed curriculum that is not included in our state standards.
2. The proposed curriculum expands instruction within grades K-5. State law only requires age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention in these grades. The proposed curriculum seems to go above this requirement, and it appears local public feedback does not support expansion into this grade band.
3. The proposed curriculum does contain content specifically labeled to CASEL standards, which are not recognized or adopted by the Georgia Department of Education or State Board of Education and are not part of the state- approved standards for health education in Georgia.
4. Regarding the instruction of sex education, Gwinnett’s current curriculum presents itself to be better aligned with the emphasis on abstinence in accordance with state standards and law, as well as State Board of Education board rule.
I understand that the Gwinnett County Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the proposed adoption at its board meeting on Thursday. I respectfully request that the board delay adoption to give the district time to ensure compliance in the proposed curriculum with state law, standards, and board rule.
I share your commitment to the health and wellness of our children. In that pursuit, it is essential that state standards and guidelines are adhered to and that public institutions are responsive to public feedback and input they receive. Overwhelming local input supports my call to pause and re-evaluate adoption. Simply stating “parents can always opt out” needlessly puts Gwinnett families and parents in a zero-sum situation.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and your support for the children and families of Gwinnett County.
Richard Woods, State School Superintendent