An Arizona bill just centimeters away from passage could make it a lot easier for parents to sue their children’s teachers.
The bill gives parents the right to take teachers to court and file a civil suit against them or any other state or federal official for “usurping the fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children” as a violation of the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights law.
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The catalyst for the bill, Raw Story reports, was “inappropriate questions” on student surveys, sent out from schools to help uncover any mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as with so much of the recent restrictive education legislation that’s been proposed and passed by the GOP—like alleged critical race theory (CRT) content in math books and book banning—proponents use transparency as their primary excuse.
One school survey, sent out in October 2021 had parents up in arms. According to the Cañon City Daily Record, the survey included questions about sexual identity and bullying.
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A month after the survey was sent out, one parent at a school board meeting in Cañon City, Arizona, complained that she was given “no warning from the school” about the “discussion on life choices,” adding that she should have “had the chance to have a discussion” before the survey was sent.
“These surveys should not dictate what we teach our children,” said Cindy Nordell, a mother of four. “These questions have no basis for building learning foundations for our students.”
Nordell then demanded that in the future all surveys be published in a local paper in order for the local school board to offer full transparency.
Sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Kaiser, HB 2161 started out with an even more bizarre twist: Initially, the bill would have required teachers to tell parents everything a student told them, including a student’s confidential information to a teacher about their gender or sexual preference. That part, thankfully, was removed.