Title: Accommodations in Sincere Beliefs from Required Instruction
Adopted: February 5, 2003
Last Revised: June 7, 2016
ACCOMMODATIONS IN SINCERE BELIEFS FROM REQUIRED INSTRUCTION
The curriculum of the school unit is designed to reflect statutory and regulatory requirements as well as other content and learning expectations specified by the Portland Board of Public Education.
The School Board acknowledges that from time to time individual students may be exposed to some ideas and materials with which they or their parent(s)/legal guardian disagree. Students and their parent(s)/legal guardian cannot be required to adopt ideas with which they disagree, but such disagreement alone is not a sufficient basis to exempt a student from the prescribed curriculum. Accommodations based on sincere beliefs including exemptions from the required curriculum should be minimized because they can detract from the overall instruction provided to the class as a whole and the educational objectives sought to be achieved by the curriculum.
The School Board recognizes, however, that there could be topics in the curriculum which may be objectionable to individual students and/or parent(s)/legal guardian based on their particular sincerely held religious, moral or philosophical beliefs. Alteration of instruction which infringes on such beliefs may be requested by the parent(s)/legal guardian.
Requests for accommodation of beliefs in instruction must be made in writing to or through a meeting with the building Principal and are subject to the approval of the Principal. The Principal shall notify the Superintendent as soon as practicable of any request for accommodation in instruction and of his/her decision.
In considering requests for accommodation, factors that the Principal should consider may include:
A. Whether the course or content area is required by state law or regulations, or School Board policy;
B. The educational importance of the material or instruction for which accommodation is requested;
C. Evidence regarding the sincerity of the belief on which the request is based;
D. Whether the school has a legal obligation to accommodate the request;
E. The effect of exemption or accommodation on the validity of the district’s assessment system; and
F. Other factors that bear upon the particular request.
Accommodations in regard to required instruction do not excuse the student from meeting statutory curriculum requirements, from total credit hours, or other requirements for graduation, or from performing alternative work.
When the Principal determines that the curriculum that has been aligned with statutory requirements conflicts with sincerely held religious, philosophical or moral beliefs of a student or his/her parent or legal guardian, reasonable accommodation in the curriculum shall be made for the student, within the scope of existing resources. Alternative instruction may be provided by the school or through approved independent study. Any alternative instruction shall be approved in advance by the Principal in consultation with appropriate instructional staff and shall meet the standards and objectives of the part of the curriculum that is being replaced.
If the Principal denies an accommodation request, the parent(s)/legal guardian may appeal to the Superintendent, whose decision shall be final. If the accommodation in the curriculum that is requested is so great that the validity of the district assessment system is compromised, the Superintendent will determine how to address the situation, subject to the approval of the Commissioner, if appropriate.
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