South County : School Board Due to Vote on Family Life Program

A final vote on the controversial Family Life curriculum will be made by the Capistrano Unified School District school board tonight.

The proposal to expand and update the curriculum has been two years in the making and has been one of the most hotly debated issues ever to come before the five-member school board.

The Family Life curriculum includes sex education classes and health studies, including lessons on venereal disease prevention and drug and alcohol abuse courses.

Although the Family Life curriculum has been offered to Capistrano Unified students for more than a decade, the revision in the curriculum would incorporate Family Life materials into many traditional subject areas beginning at the elementary school level.

Supporters of the plan say the family life curriculum is needed to counter rising teen-age pregnancy and drug abuse rates. Opponents, however, have said the curriculum is a socialist, anti-family attempt to subvert their children.

At the last school board meeting, district Supt. Jerome Thornsley presented final recommendations to the board, including adoption of a pilot program at eight elementary schools, two junior high schools and all four of the district's senior high schools.

Also due to come before the board will be a resolution to lay off 20 classified employees and reduce the number of allowed work hours for nine others. All but four of the 29 workers affected are instructional aides in the district's English as a Second Language program.

According to Sharon Tanner, a district spokeswoman, the proposed layoffs are the result of reductions in federal assistance for the projects. Laid-off personnel who have seniority with the district could be rehired, she said, if the the funding is restored.

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