With the 2022 legislative session just around the corner, Attorney General Eric Schmitt is imploring lawmakers to take up and pass a “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
If Schmitt’s proposal were passed by lawmakers, schools would be required to enact policies guaranteeing parents the right to view the schools’ curriculum, information on extracurricular activities and scholarship programs, and offering information on individual education plans (IEPs).
“Parents have every right to play a central role in their children’s education, are entitled to critical information about what is being taught, and must have the tools necessary to take action when they feel that the quality and content of how their children are being educated does not align with the values and expectations they expect and deserve,” Schmitt said.
“The Parents’ Bill of Rights empowers parents and increases transparency in school curricula and materials,” he continued. “It is my hope that the legislature will pass this crucial legislation to improve education for millions of children across the state.”
Schmitt said his proposal would give parents increased control over their students’ health care decisions, require them to consent to scans and recordings, and allow access to their children’s medical and mental health records. Parents would also be alerted to investigations involving their children.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) would be tasked with developing a transparency portal for parents to provide parents information on curriculum, source materials, teacher training requirements, and speakers and guest lecturers visiting the school.
Parents would also have the legal right to file a lawsuit against districts violating the proposal, while the Attorney General’s Office would enforce the law through its own legal challenges.
The proposal comes on the heels of Schmitt’s legal challenges with a pair of school districts. The Republican executive leveled a lawsuit against Springfield Public Schools this month alleging Sunshine Law violations in his office’s pursuit of information on critical race theory (CRT). A challenge against Moberly Public Schools followed, this time over parents’ ability to record Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings.
Schmitt has also gone to bat with Missouri schools over their COVID-19 policies, suing Columbia Public Schools and backing a successful challenge against a Jefferson County district’s mask and quarantine policies.
School choice and curriculum have been a contentious topic in Missouri this year as lawmakers, officials, and parents sounded off on CRT. While Republican lawmakers and Gov. Mike Parson argued the practice had no place in Missouri, a survey administered by DESE found only Kansas City Public Schools used CRT in its curriculum.
The Missouri School Boards’ Association withdrew from its national counterpart last month after it likened those participating in contentious school board meetings over CRT and mask mandates “domestic terrorists.”
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.