Parental Rights Legislation Unanimously Approved by House Education Committee

House Education Committee members, on Wednesday, unanimously endorsed “parent’s rights” legislation, sending the measure to the full Senate for consideration, likely next week.

Sponsored by Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield, House Bill 163 “reinforces the fundamental rights and responsibilities of parents or legal guardians as primary stakeholders to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their child.”

The bill expands the requirements of public schools when administering surveys of students, parental notification if their child is questioned by a school resource officer and grants reasonable access to observe all school activities during school hours in which the child is enrolled.

House Bill 163 asserts parents as “primary stakeholders” in their student’s education and spells out several safeguards, including:

  • Develop processes for parents to review curricular materials and withdraw their child from courses with teaching materials they find objectionable.
  • Notify parents of changes in their child’s mental, emotional or physical health, and facilitate conversations between students and families when appropriate.
  • Seek permission from parents before administering any survey related to a student’s sexuality, sex, religion, political beliefs, mental or psychological health, personal family information or financial information.
  • Notify parents when a student has been questioned by law enforcement (unless the questioning is related to suspicions of child abuse).
  • Allow parents to observe classes and other school activities, unless visitation interferes with teaching.
  • Maintain open communication with parents about student health and wellness, or changes in related services (unless otherwise prohibited by law or the courts).

If a parent’s rights are violated, the legislation allows them to file an official complaint with their school. Districts and charters would be required to implement procedures to handle such complaints. If a complaint is not remedied, the legislation gives parents the option to seek legal relief.

Educator, IEA member and Rep. Soñia Galaviz (D-Boise), voted in favor of the bill.

“We are, as teachers, partners, allies, advocates,” Galaviz said.

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