SHAC reconvenes following new state guidelines


The School and Health Advisory Council advises the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees on how to improve safety measures against abuse and trafficking in schools across the district. SHAC will be renewing guidelines regarding curriculum. Anvita Anumala.

Tvisha Jindal, Staff Writer

On Aug. 15, the Texas Legislature issued new guidelines regarding required curriculum covering sexual education and abuse for Texas public schools. Coppell ISD’s School Health and Advisory Council (SHAC), established in 2003, has already begun taking steps to meet standards. 

SHAC’s main responsibility is to serve as an advisory council to the CISD Board of Trustees and provide recommendations regarding health curriculum and other health-related topics.

“The district and SHAC are currently working through a recommendation process to review health curriculum that the district is interested in or is Texas Education Agency approved that address the state’s newly adopted health TEKS – family violence, child abuse, human sexuality, dating violence and sex trafficking,” CISD health services coordinator Joyce Alcorn said.

These issues are a state-wide focal point for schools and SHAC’s guidance is essential to reflect Coppell’s values. 

SHAC is made up of Coppell educators and parents and holds at least two public meetings on curriculum materials per school year, provides recommendations to the board at a public meeting and has the board vote on curriculum materials. 

On Sep. 26, the board unanimously (7-0) agreed to convene SHAC for this year. The board determines whether or not to assemble SHAC each school year.

Students often do not realize the risk they are in or are not able to identify signs of abuse in their friends. A report by the Attorney General states the average age a young person gets involved in sex trafficking is 12. In addition to this, about 1 in 12 teens experience physical/sexual dating abuse. If students do not know what can happen to them, they cannot prevent themselves from getting into danger and SHAC looks to instill that cognizance into students, especially high schoolers.

SHAC has three to four subcommittees working to improve school health in three major areas – physical, mental, and social/emotional health. Under each area, there are numerous functions members partake in, like working with the Child Nutrition department and educating parents. Previously, SHAC has supported activities such as the school gardens, All Children Exercising Simultaneously (ACES) and Walk-to-School Day.   

“Our SHAC vision is for a future where every CISD student has the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle, to be physically and emotionally safe, to reach their full personal health and academic potential and for students to be supported and challenged,” SHAC parent chair Wednesday Foster said. “Awareness in teens is equipping them.”

Another difference with this new legislation is all guidelines would be opt-in rather than opt-out. Parents would approve of their children being given SHAC instruction.

According to the board, engaged parents are essential to curriculum rollouts in a district. Parent enrollment ensures CISD hears the voice of the community. 

“Students talk about things regarding human sexuality, oftentimes in a misinformed light,” CISD trustee Nicole Bentley said. “The significance at the high school level is to use science and facts that are consistent across the board to educate kids in making safer decisions, to aid with whatever spiritual or cultural lens families may have.” 

The SHAC administration’s role at a public school level is to facilitate a safer environment through educating students on looking out for other people and raising awareness about students’ own positions in the world as they grow older.

“The earliest we may see potential Health and Wellness curriculum changes in a school setting is by 2023 spring,” Bentley said.

SHAC’s next meeting is Thursday to discuss curriculum, assess community input and vote on a recommendation to the board. These meetings are open to all and viewable on YouTube. 

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