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State Sets Hearing Guidelines for Disgruntled K-12 Parents

Updated: Oct 22

NC Board of Education weighs Parent Bill of Rights rollout

by: Sloan Rachmuth

Now that the Parents' Bill of Rights has become law, the State Board of Education (SBE) and schools are tasked with implementing it. A key responsibility for the SBE will be conducting grievance hearings for parents who accuse local school districts of violations of the law.

Starting in January, parents can file a formal complaint with their local school board if they believe their school violates the Parents' Bill of Rights. Only certain violations can be appealed to the SBE if the issue is not resolved within 30 days on the local level.

During Wednesday's Board of Education meeting, the agency released its proposed "Parental Concern Hearings Procedure" policy. SBE attorney Allison Schaefer stressed that issues like age-inappropriate library books must be handled at the local level.

District superintendents can use SBE's new policy as a guide to ensure no appealable offenses occur in their schools.

Here are the changes that will take effect in 2024:

  • Parents must be notified of any change in the preferred name or pronoun used for a student in school records or by school staff.

  • School personnel may not encourage a child to discuss issues related to the child's well-being with his or her parents, prohibit parents from accessing their child's education and health records, or encourage a child to withhold information from his or her parents.

  • Health care practitioners, including school nurses, are required to get parental permission before providing non-lifesaving medical treatments to minors.

  • In grades kindergarten through fourth grade, instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality.

  • A parent's written consent is required to give their child surveys about politics, sexuality, or drugs.

  • Administrators must explain and notify parents of the health care services offered at the child's school.

School districts and charter schools will create a process where parents can lodge complaints about possible violations. If the concern isn’t resolved, the school system must provide an explanation of why not. Parents can request a hearing with the SBE if their complaints are not addressed after 30 days.

The State Board will hold individual hearings unless two or more parents share the same or similar concerns or are involved in the same matter to be heard. SBE will appoint experienced lawyers to oversee hearings at the expense of the school district.

Despite SBE's ability to identify a violation, the law provides no other consequences for schools flouting the rules. Parents can sue the school directly for damages.

The SBE will vote to approve the policy during its November meeting.

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