UPDATE: Governor Evers vetoed the Parent Bill of Rights on April 15, 2022. Governor Evers’ veto message claimed the bill was aimed at “dividing our schools.”
The Wisconsin legislature recently passed a Parent Bill of Rights and sent it to Governor Evers’ desk. Now, Governor Evers has the opportunity to stand with parents and ensure they are equal and respected partners in education by enshrining these rights in state law.
What’s In The Parent Bill of Rights?
In recent years, WILL has represented several public-school parents after their local school established policies and procedures that undermined fundamental parental rights to make decisions about their child’s education, healthcare, and overall welfare. AB 963/SB 962 is a response to this common experience for Wisconsin’s public-school parents.
- Right to review educational materials and access to learning materials: This legislation empowers parents to have access to learning materials used in the education of their child. This is vital as parents continue to engage with their child’s teachers and school administrators.
- Right to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school: WILL has two active lawsuits, representing public-school parents, against the Madison Metropolitan School District and Kettle Moraine School District regarding the districts’ policy on gender pronouns and student nicknames. The legislation ensures that parents are not in the dark about serious and important medical decisions regarding their child.
- Right to opt out and be notified about educational topics: This legislation provides parents with options to decide their own child’s educational experience and learning materials based on whether the material violates the parent’s religious or personal convictions.
- Right to be notified about surveys to students: Federal law protects students from being required to participate in any sort of “survey, analysis, or evaluation” that divulges information concerning, among other things, political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; legally recognized privileged relationships, such as that between a physician and a patient; and religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent.”
- Right to be notified about student safety and incidents of violence: The legislation requires a school to notify parents about security updates, disciplinary actions taken against their child and if crimes or acts of violence occur on school campus.
- Establishes a legal right to direct the education of their child: This legislation creates a legal standard for state infringement on fundamental rights of parents and guardians through specific items enumerated in the bill. It also gives parents and guardians a way to hold the district accountable for their actions by suing the district who fails to comply with this bill.
Here’s What Parents Are Saying:
“As a mom of three children, I urge Governor Evers to sign the Parent Bill of Rights legislation. Regrettably, parents put our faith in the school system we trusted only to feel the sting of betrayal. The fact that we even need to have a parental rights bill is a sad reality. But this legislation is absolutely necessary.”
Alexandra Schweitzer, Oconomowoc, Wis.
“Schools should play a supporting role to parents as we lead in raising and educating our children. Parents are not a threat; we are the ones who have our students’ best interests in mind. And we will fight tooth and nail to protect them from what we see to be harmful policies and teachings. The Parent Bill of Rights is an important step in the right direction.”
Emily Donohue, Elm Grove, Wis.
“The pandemic highlighted that the public school establishment is putting the best interests of the adults ahead of our children. The Parent Bill of Rights ensures that parents and the family unit are able to decide what is in their child’s best interest.”
Julie Crile-Zaccaria, Brookfield, Wis.
“The public school establishment has changed and parents must have the opportunity to ensure that activism never replaces educational excellence. The Parent Bill of Rights legislation gives parents the power to make decisions and hold our schools accountable.”
Bill Brewer, Slinger, Wis.