So far, we have discussed parents as the primary educators of their children, parental rights and duties, and the full partnership between schools and parents. In Part 4 we covered access to our children's records.
In Part 5, I will build on those previous posts, covering access to teaching materials and parent choice over particular lessons.
By state law, parents can see state assessments and classroom assessments after they're given. Parents may also see the curriculum, instructional materials and other teaching aids used in the classroom, subject to availability (TEC 26.005-6).
As you probably know, at North East ISD, much of the curriculum can be seen digitally through the district's "Launchpad" (student dashboard). However, some curriculum is not online at our district, such as sex ed; access to those types of teaching materials are to be made "readily available" for the parents to see, during reasonable hours.
Additionally, a parent is entitled to request that the school district allow the student to take home any instructional materials used by the student.
Transparency like this, in my view, is part of the full partnership between parents and educators.
Exempting your children from lessons.
In terms of sex ed, it is completely up to the parents whether to send their children. A parent may wish to make an informed decision by looking at the materials first. Parents who decide the sex ed offered by a district is not right for their family/child may opt out (or not opt-in)...
without subjecting the student to any disciplinary action, academic penalty, or other sanction imposed by the district or the student's school (TEC 28.004(i)(2)(B)).
Texas law preserves that right for parents because of the special role they have in their children's lives as primary educators, and parental duty - responsibility for the moral and religious formation of their own children.
Should there be a need to pull your child out of a counseling/school assembly, activity, or specific lesson, say in history class, that is also a protected right of the parent. On this, the law states:
(a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent's child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent's child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester.
(b) This section does not exempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements in a manner acceptable to the school district and the agency.
Other consent-related matters.
Active consent is required for certain things such as conducting a psychological exam or test, performing a psychological treatment (with some exceptions).
Employees of a school district may not record your children's image or voice without your consent, unless it is strictly for 1) safety in common areas or buses, 2) a purpose related to a cocurricular or extracurriculur activity, 3) a purpose related to regular classroom instruction, or 4) media coverage of the school, or 5) special ed and related services. See TEC 26.009 for full information.
Texas Education Code Chapter 26 covers much more. In fact, the whole Texas Education Code covers many topics that will interest parents. In this pdf you will find a table of contents to help you navigate the over 3000 pages of the TEC, or just search in your browser.
This series just scratches the surface, is not legal advice, and makes no claims to have interpreted the law correctly, but hopefully makes parents more informed about the existence of the Ed. Code. Because we can't exhaust the whole Ed Code here, the next blog will touch on just a few North East ISDs policies and procedures that parents may not be too familiar with.
My wife once made the comment,
"We read nutrition labels to make sure what we're putting into our children's bodies is good for them. Shouldn't we also have a pretty good idea of what is going into their minds?"
It may have been in the context of books and movies, but it made me think.
Vote November 3rd Robert "Steve" Hilliard, North East ISD Trustee, Place 6.