CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is one of the first districts in the state to implement the controversial Parents’ Bill of Rights. In an emotional meeting Tuesday night, Board of Education members voted on policies to align district rules with the newly implemented state laws.
State legislators in favor of the law say it is designed to create a pathway for parents to get more involved in their child’s education by increasing access to review the materials taught in schools. CMS leaders say the district already gave parents access.
“A lot of those things already exist, but they just exist in different places,” CMS Superintendent Crystal Hill said at the meeting. “So, this is just an opportunity for us to put it in one location so people can easily access that information, and you know, we very much believe in transparency.”
The Parents’ Bill of Rights is a 12-page document prohibiting kindergarten to fourth-graders from learning about gender identity and sexuality. It requires districts to notify a parent if a child changes a name or pronoun. Districts must also give parents the right to review books used in the library and classroom.
The Bill went into effect after Senate and House Republicans overrode a vote from Gov. Roy Cooper on Aug. 16.
“We would like this to be more open so that we can see what our children are being taught, and we want to be involved with our children,” said parent Bryan Weiss.
Board members voiced their concerns about the legislation but ultimately voted to implement the policies. They mainly cited following the letter of the law.
“I’m concerned about the harm it might cause to students and the extra burden it places upon our teachers,” Board Chair Elyse Dashew said. “However, I’m more concerned over the harm that would come to the district, which would then trickle down to students and teachers.”
The law now requires written consent for parents to opt-in to sex education and district-wide surveys. CMS leaders say this is not easy for a diverse district where families speak several languages.
“We are the first to adopt this in the state, and there’s a reason why,” Board member Summer Nunn said. “This board and superintendent are focused on student outcomes, and the reality is this is going to set us back the way (the Parents’ Bill of Rights) is written.”
Teachers against the new law say it will create more work and less trust.
“It’s not fair to ask me to be your police officer,” said Gregory Snead, a teacher at Olympic High School. “A child needs to have a safe place, and I’m going to provide you with a safe place.”
CMS leaders will meet with principals to make sure they understand the new law, and then principals will be responsible for meeting with teachers to explain the legal obligations.