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Palm Beach County School Board to vote on parental rights policy

Policy bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity in kindergarten through third grade
The Palm Beach County School Board meets on April 13, 2022.jpg
Posted at 3:59 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 17:26:32-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The "Parental Rights In Education" law, which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" measure, officially takes effect in Florida public schools in a matter of weeks.

The Palm Beach County School Board is set to vote Wednesday on a new policy to recognize the legislation.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education

The most talked about part of the law bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, adding that type of instruction should be "age appropriate and developmentally appropriate" for older students.

The new policy up for a vote Wednesday in Palm Beach County outlines steps for parents if they have concerns.

READ PROPOSED POLICY:

"Solidifies it's the parent's right to direct the upbringing of their own child," said Kristen Stevenson, a Palm Beach County parent and school board candidate.

Stevenson is glad to see parental rights put on paper.

"I definitely think it's a solid first step in following the House bill and putting in place a framework for the district to follow," Stevenson said. "I think that will make a lot of us feel more confident in sending our kids back to school in the fall."

The Palm Beach County policy recognizes parents' rights according to state law and outlines what they can do if they have a complaint about what their kids are taught, or other issues.

First, a parent's complaint needs to be submitted in writing to the school principal.

Then the principal will convene a school review committee to meet within five days, and the parent will have 10 minutes to explain their concerns.

Within two days, the school will have a recommendation from the committee and parents can request further review if they are not happy with the results.

"I think there's going to be an attempt to continue fanning that flame of this false narrative that parents apparently don't have rights in schools," said Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association. "Parents are just as much the public schools as are our teachers, our administrators, our staff, and the community all working together, making sure all children are getting the education they deserve."

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, speaks to WPTV on May 5, 2022.jpg
Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, speaks to WPTV on May 5, 2022.

Spar believes the law itself is unnecessary, which further allows parents to file a lawsuit if they are not satisfied with the school district's resolution.

"There's a sacred trust that exists between parents and teachers and there are people trying to tear it down," Spar said. "I think this law in particular that talks about parents' rights and their ability to sue teachers and schools is really trying to break down that sacred trust, and we can't allow that to happen."

Stevenson, however, sees the new law another way.

"It helps build trust in the school system and between the parents," Stevenson said.

RELATED: Truth test regarding sexual orientation, gender identity in Florida schools

It's important to note that, currently, instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity is not part of the Florida public school educational standards for kindergarten through third grade.

The new policy also outlines how parents can inspect and object to instructional materials used in the classroom.

The Palm Beach County School Board is set to vote on the policy on Wednesday at its 5 p.m. meeting.