Review of School Laws and Policies Concerning Child and Adolescent Health

Protecting the health and safety of children, adolescents, and others in school environments is an essential but challenging component of any comprehensive public health plan. The nation’s public schools are regulated through a multitude of federal, state, and local governmental entities that lack cohesion in their collective approach to improving child and adolescent health in educational settings. As in many areas of public health, the law can be an important tool for improving health outcomes of children and adolescents in schools.

To date, no one has systematically assessed school laws, regulations, and policies that seek to protect child and adolescent health. Together with CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) and CDC’s Public Health Law Program, the Center has developed a Report to review the role of law in protecting the health of kids and staff in the nation’s public schools (grades K-12).

This Report is based on the 8 interactive components of the coordinated school health program (CSHP): (1) health education, (2) physical education, (3) health services, (4) nutrition services, (5) mental health and social services, (6) healthy and safe school environment, (7) health promotion for staff, and (8) family and community involvement. Underlying these components are constitutional, statutory, regulatory, and judicial laws and policies at all levels of government concerning student and staff health and safety in schools. A primary goal of the Report is to increase understanding and foster collaboration on the use of school laws and policies to improve child and adolescent health through governmental and private sector entities.

The culmination of the project is the Report entitled “A CDC Review of School Laws and Policies Concerning Child and Adolescent Health,” which is now published as a Special Issue of the Journal of School Health (Volume 78), February 2008. Using a coordinated school health program model as a framework, the Report gives educators and public health professionals new access to information on laws and policies concerning the health of children and adolescents in schools. It is intended to help practitioners and policymakers in public health and education at the federal, state, and local levels enhance their knowledge of relevant laws and policies.