WCPSS works to implement parents' bill of rights as board members vow to have ongoing conversations

Akilah Davis Image
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
WCPSS works to implement parents' bill of rights
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The Wake County School Board said it hopes to have the policy completely updated by January.

CARY, N,C, (WTVD) -- There was a lot of discussion during the Wake County School Board policy committee meeting as board members took up the Parents' Bill of Rights. They spent Tuesday afternoon taking a close look at the district policy and revisions needed to bring it in line with the new law.

The Parents' Bill of Rights is an expansive piece of legislation. It bans teaching on sexuality and gender identity for kindergarten through fourth-graders. It requires parents to be informed if their child wants to change their name or wants to use pronouns to refer to themselves. It also allows parents to look over course materials and books.

Supporters say it keeps parents informed about what is happening in their child's classroom.

"The parents have the rights to oversee the upbringing of their children. What's dangerous is when schools and teachers put themselves in the place of parents and try to get between parents and their children," said Tami Fitzgerald with NC Values Coalition. "We will be watching. We're already getting stories from different counties around the state. One county refused to or was about to adopt a policy that wouldn't require the schools to notify the parents about a pronoun change. It's right there in the law in black and white."

Opponents call the law dangerous.

"We know that more than half of houseless young people are LGBTQ and it shows the story that students are asked to leave their home if they're outed before they are ready or their family is not supportive," said Rebby Kern with Equality NC. "This bill is completely distracting the general public from what we need to be focused on, which is funding public schools, ensuring educators are getting raises they deserve, and ensuring there's enough bus drivers to carry out all routes

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board Chair Rani D. Dasi released a statement on the Parents' Bill of Rights, saying in part:

"On behalf of the Board, I'd like to make a statement and raise awareness about the irresponsible, harmful, and thoughtlessly wrong decisions coming out of the state Capitol.

Legislators returned to Raleigh this week. You would think they returned because they understand the damaging consequences of not approving a budget that includes compensation decisions for state employees, retirees, and school staff including teachers, and others.

You would think they returned because they care that leaving these decisions in limbo is having a damaging impact on a profession that is already struggling to recruit and retain staff, which will harm North Carolina's children.

You would think they returned because they know that North Carolina misses out on more than $500 million in federal funding for each month that Medicaid expansion isn't implemented, and that they care about how beneficial it would be for expanding access to health care for North Carolinians.

You would think all that. But you would be wrong. They returned to make schools less safe for students, passing a so-called "Bill of Rights" that intrudes into the most personal aspects of people's lives, and taking away parent choice as if these legislators know what is best for children."

Bringing WCPSS policy in line with the law will take a few months. School board members said there is still a lot of work to do.

Tuesday's meeting adjourned after about two hours of discussion. The board said it hopes to have the policy completely updated by January.

The measure also allows for parents to sue if school districts do not follow the new law.