PROCESS MATTERS!

The general experience in the public school/charter school or even private school can be pleasant where no advocacy is needed. Children can thrive in school with proper guidance and professional educators. However, sometimes the experience is not so pleasing for the parent or child, causing one to feel they have no avenue of recourse. Schools should be following IEP’s, 504 Plans, State Standards of Education, and district approved curriculum but rogue teachers or administrators have become a growing problem. Sometimes a parent will call/email the teacher or principal when they experience a problem but are often brushed off, becoming frustrated.

TPAU was created to help you understand, You do have rights and will find success when following proper process. An Elected School Governing Board can be your best friend and ally in this process of finding peace for your child when the administration or teacher does nothing. Many feel they need to speak out at board meetings which is a nice thought but often times, ineffective. Boards and administration has their minds made up and by the time you are speaking in front of them (3 minutes max), policies and procedures have already been decided. To better understand parent rights, feel free to read through ARS 15-341 and ARS 15-342

Parents’ Rights under Arizona Law

TPAU supports the right of parents to guide their children’s lives and to be responsible for every aspect of their care, including all health-related decisions. The Center for AZ Policy fought hard to secure those rights in 2010.

Parents’ Bill of Rights:

Recognizing the need to specifically protect parents’ rights in state law, CAP worked with the Arizona Legislature in 2010 to pass the Parents’ Bill of Rights. This statute sets forth the broad rule of parents’ rights: “The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right.” A.R.S. 1-601(A). The government may not interfere with parental rights unless it demonstrates a compelling interest of the highest order that is narrowly tailored to meet that interest and that is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means. A.R.S. 1-601(B). This standard allows for children to be protected from abusive situations, while still ensuring that parents’ rights are not infringed by government officials who may simply believe they know better than a parent.

The Parents’ Bill of Rights recognizes a parent’s right to:

  • Direct the education of their child.
  • Direct the upbringing of their child.
  • Direct the moral or religious training of their child.
  • Make healthcare decisions for their child.
  • Access and review all medical records relating to their child.
  • Provide written permission before a biometric scan is performed on their child.
  • Provide written permission before any record of their child’s blood or DNA is created, stored, or shared.
  • Provide written permission before any videos or voice recordings are made of their child, with certain exceptions (for example, security or surveillance of school property).
  • Be notified promptly if there is suspicion that a criminal offense has been committed against their child.
  • Access information about a Department of Child Safety investigation involving the parent and their child.

Parental Rights and Education:

Arizona law protects the constitutional rights held by parents in directing the education of their children. This includes the right to select the type of education that the parent deems is best for the child, including district school, charter school, private school, homeschool, online or the empowerment scholarship account program. A.R.S. 15-802.

In district schools (A.R.S. 15-102), parents have the right to:

  • Opt out of any learning material or activity that the parent finds harmful to the student. This includes material that questions beliefs or practices related to sex, morality, or religion.
  • Opt in to sex education curriculum if one is provided by the school district. Without written parental permission, children cannot participate in sex education.
  • Notification in advance if content discussing sexuality is taught in other classes, such as history or literature, and the right to opt your child out of that instruction.
  • Opt in to any video, audio, or electronic materials that are inappropriate for the age of the student. This means the school cannot show a rated-R movie to students under 18 years old without signed, written permission from the child’s parent. A.R.S. 15-113(D).
  • Opt out of instruction on the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • Excuse the student from school attendance for religious purposes.
  • Be informed about the nature and purpose of extracurricular student clubs and activities.
  • Access instructional materials.
  • Public review of courses of study and textbooks.
  • Refuse to provide information for the Student Accountability Information System that does not relate to the provision of educational services to the student. ARS 15-1042(D).

For additional rights in district schools see ARS 15-102(A)(7).

In charter schools (ARS 15-113), parents have more limited rights than in district schools, but they do have the right to:

  • Withdraw the student from any activity the parent deems objectionable because of sexual content, violent content, or profane or vulgar language.  The charter school may require parents to waive this requirement as a condition of enrollment if the school provides a complete list of books and materials to be used during the school year.
  • Opt in to any video, audio, or electronic materials that are inappropriate for the age of the student.  This means the school cannot show a rated-R movie to students under 18 years old without signed, written permission from the child’s parent.

Parental Rights and Medical Care:

Parents have important rights regarding the medical care of their children, although Arizona law does contain several provisions that undermine parents’ rights in this area.

In addition to the medical care provisions of the Parents’ Bill of Rights listed above, Arizona’s parents have specific rights found elsewhere in state law, including:

  • Requiring written permission before a mental health screening is performed on your child in a non-clinical setting (i.e., outside of a doctor’s office or clinic). ARS 36-2272.
  • Requiring written permission before any mental health treatment is performed on your child, unless it is an emergency. ARS 36-2272.
  • Requiring written parental consent before a physician or entity performs or seeks to perform a surgical procedure on a minor. ARS 36-2271.
  • Requiring parental consent before a pharmacist administers an immunization or vaccine to a minor. ARS 32-1974(M).
  • Requiring written parental consent before a minor donates blood. ARS 44-134.
  • Opting out of immunizations at the beginning of the school year due to personal beliefs. ARS 15-873(A)(1).
  • Requiring notarized parental consent before a minor can have an abortion, unless the minor obtains a judicial bypass. ARS 36-2152.

Unfortunately, parents’ rights are undermined by two state laws that allow minors to consent to medical treatment without parental consent. State law allows a minor to seek treatment for a sexually-transmitted disease (ARS 44-132.01) or for substance abuse (ARS 44-133.01) without parental consent or involvement. No Arizona law requires parental consent for prescription medications for minors, including contraceptives.

Parents have the solemn right and responsibility to raise their children according to their own sincerely held convictions. Government must always recognize this right and make every effort to support parents in the choices they make while raising children. In Arizona, citizens should be aware of the extensive parental rights in state law and their ability to freely exercise them.

Governing Board Parameters IDEA Governing Board Discretionary Powers

Communication Strategies

These are triggers for Admin to show you know your parental rights. These make them perk up and listen.

Keys to success in the school system/navigating admin:

  • Never ever simply call the teacher or principal
  • Always remember to keep emotion out of it.
  • Stick to facts
  • Cite catch phrases like, “Preserving the Peace and Tranquility if the public school system” and “Preserving Public Trust”
  • Also use the term, FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) or if this is a Special Education issue, use IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • Keep the email fairly short without too much detail, only pertinent facts.
  • Do not get angry.
  • Always always always CC more than 4 ppl to the email. Top choices are: principal, teacher, counselor, assistant princ, one board member, and the district superintendent.
  • Cover your behind and document everything.

**As an Associate Member of TPAU, you will have access to advocacy in the form of communication guidance and more.

Are you a parent whose child has a current 504 Plan or IEP and Distance Learning is not addressing those needs? By Federal and state law, each district collects 3x the amount per child than a child without an IEP or 504 Plan. Make them work for your child by using the above suggestions and the following form letter. You may need to tailor the letter to address you specific concerns and add links where you need.

 

Dear Principal…………………,
My name is ————–, and I am ——————- mother. He currently attends ———— School District’s ——————- School .  My child has an IEP on file but I desire to have it addressed again.  I have tried vigorously to work with the school and administrators to address his educational special needs during Distance Learning but it seems this is not being accomplished by his teachers.  The current IEP on file was approved electronically and I did not realize his hours were reduced.  As per AZ State law, children with IEP’s must have them updated at the parent’s request and I am formally requesting this, at this time.
Please remember according to the Arizona Revised Statutes and Federal IDEA:

(4) Individualized education program

An individualized education program, or an individualized family service plan that meets the requirements of section 1436(d) of this title, is developed, reviewed, and revised for each child with a disability in accordance with section 1414(d) of this title.

(5) Least restrictive environment

(A) In general

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

(B) Additional requirement

(i) In general

A State funding mechanism shall not result in placements that violate the requirements of subparagraph (A), and a State shall not use a funding mechanism by which the State distributes funds on the basis of the type of setting in which a child is served that will result in the failure to provide a child with a disability a free appropriate public education according to the unique needs of the child as described in the child’s IEP.

(C) will annually report to the Secretary and the public on the progress of the State, and of children with disabilities in the State, toward meeting the goals established under subparagraph (A), which may include elements of the reports required under section 6311(h) of this title.

As a parent and stakeholder of ————— Public/Charter Schools, I am making a valiant effort to assist my child in their educational goals and have been met with resistance. Remote learning is not nearly coming close enough to addressing his/her needs and he/she is falling behind. My son/daughter, as well as my family, are fearing a loss of trust in the public school education system with the many attempts I have made to remedy my child’s situation.

Should school not resume to in-person learning as per ARS Title15-901, I will expect a comprehensive plan for your willingness to address my child’s educational needs according to his carefully laid our 504/IEP.   I will expect communication as to reasons why my child’s needs are not being met.  This will allow me to take further action, should that be required.

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from your staff, as soon as possible. Please keep all contact to email so as to establish a communication trail.

 Sincerely,

 ———————————-

**By Joining TPAU as an Associate Member, you will have access to information about Parent’s Rights, as they evolve. You will also have a Professional Parent Advocate to consult as needed, or even attend meetings with you in case there are problems.

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