These legislators don’t want to ask parents for their permission

July 1

On Thursday, June 24, the full state Senate voted on A5597. This bill amends the current law that gives schools the ability to administer student surveys on sensitive issues including sexual behaviors and attitudes. Presently, schools in New Jersey must send home forms for parents to grant permission for their student to participate in these personal and probing sexual health surveys.

The proposed change in New Jersey law would remove the requirement for parents to pro-actively opt their student into the health surveys. Instead, every student would automatically be given the survey unless their parent in writing requested for them to be excused from it.

What is the reason for this change? According to the language of the bill, not enough parents are giving schools the permission to ask their children these sex-based health questions. What do the bill sponsors recommend as the solution? Simple: stop asking the parents for their permission!

Two Republican senators stood up on the Senate floor to urge Democrats to amend this bill or vote against it.

First, Senator Steve Oroho (R–Sparta) made public comments against it.

“I rise in opposition to this bill. What it does is take away the proactive parental consent. Silence does not equal parental consent. There are some very controversial topics in here. I propose the bill is placed back on second reading for amendment.”

His request was rejected 25-15 on a partisan party-line vote.

Then, Senator Holly Schepisi (R–Westwood) stood in opposition, communicating the concerns she heard about this bill during the Senate Education Committee hearing.

“We had testimony from our superintendents and principals that they don’t want this bill either. Over the past year, there has been a complete eroding of trust between parents, board of education, superintendents, and principals. Through no fault of their own, they are in a very precarious place due to legislative initiatives that we put forth changing curriculum on them… Parents right now do not trust their boards of Ed of their schools… Superintendents and principals acknowledge this and said this bill, and the timing of this bill, is going to further erode that trust and create much more of an adversarial position between the schools, and the children, and the parents. For that reason, I would ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to respectively rethink their position of voting yes.”

Her request was once again denied on a partisan party-line vote.

The results are in.

YES vote = I do not believe
schools should ask
parents for their permission
NO vote = I believe schools should
ask parents to actively grant permission
James Beach, Cherry Hill (D) Christopher Bateman, Somerville (R)
Richard Codey, Livingston (D) Chris Brown, Linwood (R)
Nilsa Cruz Perez, Camden (D) Anthony Bucco, Denville (R)
Joseph Cryan, Union (D) Christopher Connors, Forked River (R)
Sandra Cunningham, Jersey City (D) Kristin Corrado, Totowa (R)
Patrick Diegnan, South Plainfield (D) Michael Doherty, Washington (R)
Nia Gill, Montclair (D) James Holzapefel, Brick (R)
Vin Gopal, Freehold (D) Thomas Kean, Westfield (R)
Linda Greenstein, Cranbury (D) Declan O’Scanlon, Holmdel (R)
Joseph Lagana, Paramus (D) Steven Oroho, Sparta (R)
Fred Madden, Turnersville (D) Joseph Pennacchio, Montville (R)
Nellie Pou, Paterson (D) Holly Schepisi, Westwood (R)
Ronald Rice, Newark (D) Robert Singer, Lakewood (R)
Teresa Ruiz, Newark (D) Michael Testa, Cape May Court House (R)
Nicholas Sacco, North Bergen (D) Samuel Thompson, Old Bridge (R)
Paul Sarlo, Wood-Ridge (D)
Nicolas Scutari, Linden (D)
Troy Singleton, Moorestown (D)
Bob Smith, Piscataway (D)
Brain Stack, Jersey City (D)
Stephen Sweeney, West Deptford (D)
Shirley Turner, Ewing Township (D)
Joseph Vitale, Woodbridge (D)
Loretta Weinberg, Teaneck (D)

Dawn Addiego, Medford (D) did not vote


Remember, you can hold your elected officials accountable both NOW by contacting them, and in elections!

Protecting your family,

Shawn Hyland,
Executive Director