ELMHURST – Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 will use the book "My Body! What I Say Goes!" by Jayneen Sanders as a new primary resource for third- and fourth-grade curriculum required by Erin's Law, a state law that mandates public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program.
The Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the new resource at its Oct. 9 meeting as part of the superintendent's consent agenda.
The board previously had voted at its Aug. 28 meeting to publicly display the new resource for 30 days in the district's Learning and Teaching office.
At the Aug. 28 meeting, Superintendent David Moyer said the district administration was presenting the curriculum change to the school board "off cycle" instead of in April, which is the typical time new curriculum presentations are done, because staff worked together over the summer regarding curriculum for Erin's Law, including the new resource for third and fourth grades.
Staff met about the curriculum selections over the summer because the district didn't want to take staff away from their classrooms during the school year, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Kathleen Kosteck said in an Aug. 29 phone interview.
Kosteck said the district has been using resources to address Erin's Law since the mandate began with the 2014-15 school year. The district brought in speakers in past years to address students about it at the elementary schools in "more of an assembly format," she said.
Though the speakers program had been working, Kosteck said district staff wanted to look at other options for the district to make it more personable for the students, incur fewer scheduling issues and spend less money. She added the district prefers to use internal resources, such as the district's teachers and social workers, whom district students and parents tend to trust.
No speakers will be used this year, Kosteck said in an email Aug. 30.
"One of the things that's important to us is that students always feel safe and comfortable and see that the people with whom they work with every day are trusted adults," she said via phone.
Classroom teachers and school social workers will partner to present the material to the students, as students often know whom the school social worker is, but they have more interaction with their classroom teacher, Kosteck said.
"It's really the conversations that are going to be facilitated by the social worker and the classroom teacher that are key for the lesson delivery," she said.
District staff wished to use "My Body! What I Say Goes!" because they appreciated its use of anatomically correct terms for body parts, and they believed it would prompt high-quality conversations among staff and students with its inclusion of "good questions" and its discussion of feelings and students' empowerment and their voice in keeping themselves safe, Kosteck said. She said the district wants to have developmentally appropriate instruction, so children can identify inappropriate sexual contact and learn different ways to advocate for themselves.
Parents will have an opportunity to ask questions or opt out of the instruction, she said.
Kosteck said in an email Oct. 16 that the district has ordered the approved materials, and after their arrival, teachers and social workers will deliver the instruction to each classroom. Each school will determine its own schedule for the lessons and send a letter to parents as the time of the lessons approaches, she said.