RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – House Republicans unveiled new legislation Wednesday that would make it easier for parents to get a school superintendent fired, to prosecute librarians and make a variety of other changes aimed at addressing parental rights in schools.
State Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) said the bill (click here to view) builds on previous legislation known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” which Gov. Roy Cooper (D) recently vetoed. Republicans plan to vote to override him at some point. The new bill contains a similar provision that requires schools to notify parents if a child identifies as a different gender than their biological sex at birth.
“We were hoping to put some more teeth into it. Right now, we feel like it could be a little stronger,” said Torbett.
Democrats blasted the bill, saying it could create “an untenable environment.”
“It’s just a license for book banning committees to run rampant and groups like Moms for Liberty to get superintendents fired,” said Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake County).
The bill was supposed to have a hearing Wednesday in the House K-12 Education Committee, but it was removed from the agenda. Rep. Torbett said it will be heard at some point though the timing is still to be determined.
“And, what has been clear, and I don’t think is being hidden anymore, is that there is an all-out assault on public education,” said House Democratic Leader Rep. Robert Reives.
Parents would be able to appeal to superior court when they believe there’s been a violation of the “fundamental right to parent.” The bill defines that as “the liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of the parent’s child.” A parent could receive a minimum of $5,000 in damages as well as attorneys’ fees.
If five of those affidavits are successful, a local school board would have to fire a superintendent or there would be a significant reduction in their pay.
“If, for some reason, the superintendent had just closed their eyes and let five of these things happen, then chances are he needs to be removed or she needs to be removed,” said Rep. Torbett.
The bill also requires libraries to restrict access to materials that are harmful to minors and require parental consent for children to get library cards. Parents also would have access to a minor’s library records.
It also would become easier to charge public school officials and librarians for disseminating harmful material to minors.
Another provision appears to come in response to recent court ruling that blocked a public charter school from enforcing a dress code provision that required girls to wear skirts to school. Under the bill, charter schools would not be considered state actors.
To view a summary of the bill, click here: https://webservices.ncleg.gov/ViewDocSiteFile/80737