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There has been a lot of back and forth as to what is in or is not in each chamber’s curriculum transparency bills. What penalties are there? What does it require schools to do or not do? How does it impact school libraries? The list goes on. Below is a breakdown of what is in each bill and what penalties apply.

What does the House’s plan require?

  • School districts and charter schools must post the syllabus or written summary of the class.
  • School districts and charter schools must state how the classes meet or exceed educational standards.
  • School districts and charter schools must provide all the instructional materials used in the classroom.
  • Schools will satisfy the above requirements by granting parental access to the classroom management platform.
  • If materials are modified during the school year, the district will update the information by the end of the school week.
  • Schools shall adopt a policy that includes a process for the parent or guardian to request that the student not be provided with certain instructional materials.
  • School districts and charter schools shall make a list of all school library books available.
  • Schools districts will satisfy the requirement by posting their catalogs online on the district’s website.
  • Schools must have protocols in place for the review of instructional materials and school library books with specific timelines on this process.
  • Parents may opt their children out of library books.
  • School districts must post teacher professional development and trainings on their website.

What does the Senate’s plan require?

  • School districts need to adopt policies that ensure the following rights are reserved to the parent/guardian of a minor child without obstruction or interference from the school district:
    • The right to know what the district is teaching the minor child including textbooks, books, articles, outlines, handouts, presentations, videos, and other similar materials.
    • The right to access and review information related to who is teaching the minor child, including guest lecturers and outside presenters.
    • The right to access and review information related to persons who contract with or receive moneys from the school district.
    • The right to access the minor child while the minor child is in school that a reasonable person would deem necessary to ensure the health and safety of the minor child, unless prohibited by court order.
    • The right to access and review all school records relating to the minor child, but school may prohibit access for the following:
      • The records relate to the minor child reporting the parent/guardian’s violation of the law.
      • The district determines based on actual threats that the granting access may result in serious harm to the minor child.
      • Child abuse laws prohibit the record from being released.
    • The right to access and review information related to the collection and transmission of information related to the minor child including assessment information, documents created by the child, and teacher evaluations.
    • The right to access and review information necessary to ensure the accountability and transparency of the board.
    • The right to access and review information related the minor child’s safety while at school.
  • The school district shall not require any student to engage in any activity, including instruction, or any test, assessment, or other means of evaluation that involves sexually explicit material without the express prior written consent of the student’s parent or guardian.
  • The district shall make every effort to prohibit a minor child from accessing sexually explicit material in the classroom on a device or through the school’s internet.
  • A district with an electronic library catalog shall grant access to the parent or guardian. If there isn’t an electronic catalog, shall give parents/guardians access to the physical catalog.
  • The parent/guardian may provide notice to the district indicating what materials the minor won’t be allowed to check out and the district shall not allow them to do so.
  • If the district doesn’t have an electronic catalog, shall not allow minors to check out sexually explicit materials without prior written consent.
  • District must receive the prior written consent of a student’s parent/guardian before the following:
    • An activity that involves the collection, disclosure or use of personal information for purposes of marketing.
      • A survey/analysis/evaluation that reveals:
      • Political affiliations or beliefs of student or student’s parents.
      • Mental or psychological problems of the student or their family.
      • Sex behavior or attitudes.
      • Illegal, antisocial, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior.
      • Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom the student has close familial relationships.
      • Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of attorneys, physicians, or ministers.
      • Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s family.
      • Income, except when required to determine eligibility for participation in a program or financial assistance.
      • Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening that is required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school and scheduled in advance, and unnecessary to protect the immediate health and safety of the student.

What happens if a school does not comply under the House plan?

  • If schools don’t comply, the Dept. of Ed. can withhold or place restrictions on school funding.
  • School districts may also be fined between $500 and $5000.
  • The Department of Education shall provide notice to the Board of Educational Examiners indicating the licensed individual who violated the transparency requirements.

What happens if a school does not comply under the Senate plan?

  • There are no direct financial penalties in regards to school funding or fines in the Senate’s plan.  Licensed individuals also face no penalties for violations.  Any compliance issues may be dealt with in Phase I monitoring for accreditation.

Both plans get at what parents and guardians have access to in regards to what their student is being taught at schools. The House plan has more specific timelines, processes, and consequences if those are not followed. The Senate is less prescriptive in its requirements. As this issue keeps moving forward, more conversations will be had on how schools will be more transparent for parents and guardians.

Author: Brian Lohse

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