Wednesday, December 1, 2004
School May Not Notify Parent When Child Is Released To Obtain Confidential Medical Services—Lockyer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A school district may not require parental consent for a child to be released from class to obtain medical services that a minor has the right to receive confidentially, nor may it notify a parent that a child has been released for that purpose, Attorney General Bill Lockyer has opined.
In an opinion dated Monday, Lockyer said that parental-consent or parental-notification policies would violate the “medical emancipation” statutes that allow minors to receive certain medical services without their parents’ consent or even knowledge.
The statutes allow minors of any age to be treated with relation to the prevention or treatment of pregnancy—a law that would have required parental or judicial consent for an unmarried minor to receive an abortion was declared unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court in 1997.
California also allows minors of any age to receive AIDS testing without parental knowledge or consent, and allows children 12 years of age or older to be treated for contagious diseases, the effects of rape or sexual assault, drug or alcohol problems, or—under some conditions and limitations—emotional problems, without their parents knowing.
A state law requiring school districts to notify parents of the effect of the medical emancipation statutes, Lockyer explained, means that the schools must “notify both students and their parents that students are allowed to be excused from school for confidential medical appointments without parental consent,” not that parents are to be notified when their children are excused for that purpose.
To construe the statute otherwise, the attorney general said, would eliminate the concept of “confidential medical services” and “undermine the purposes and intent of the medical emancipation statutes.”
Lockyer, who in his first days in office withdrew an opinion by his predecessor that would have allowed schools to require parental consent for pregnancy- or abortion-related services if offered by school health clinics, said that while parents have the right to access student records, “the Legislature has protected students’ rights to informational privacy, specifically regarding confidential medical services...and disclosure of personal information to school counselors.”
The opinion, No. 04-112, was requested by Solano County Counsel Dennis Bunting and prepared for Lockyer by Deputy Attorney General Susan Duncan Lee.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company