Here’s a look at California’s new education laws for 2016

capitol.jpegA new year is upon us, and that means a raft of new state laws has gone into effect. Here at the OCDE Newsroom, we’ve been specifically tracking a handful of educational bills expected to have an impact on Orange County students and schools. Here’s a quick roundup of what’s changed as we enter 2016.

Vaccinations

Over the summer, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277, which states that parents of students who attend public or private schools can no longer refuse to vaccinate their children based on a personal belief exemption. Though the law technically took effect Jan. 1, the 2015-16 year isn’t affected, so the real impact will be seen in the fall.

High School Exit Exam

Another new law officially suspends the California High School Exit Exam and calls for school districts to grant diplomas to students who didn’t pass the test but met all other graduation requirements, dating all the way back to the 2003-04 school year. Eligible students are advised to contact the school districts, county offices or charter schools where they completed grade 12.

Cheerleading

Good news for cheerleading enthusiasts. Assembly Bill 949, signed by the governor in October, reclassified cheerleading as a competitive CIF sport, starting in 2017-18. In the meantime, CIF officials are tasked with creating new rules, guidelines and safety protocols.

Health education

Assembly Bill 329 makes comprehensive sexual health education mandatory in middle or high school unless parents specifically opt out. It also updates the curriculum to include HIV and AIDS prevention information.

A separate law, Senate Bill 695, makes it a graduation requirement for students to complete a course in health education that includes instruction in sexual harassment and violence.