Indiana AG Rokita expands ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ released earlier this year

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) has expanded his Parents’ Bill of Rights, which was originally released over the summer.

The updated document, called the Parents’ Bill of Rights 2.0, includes information on several areas, such as how to file a civil rights claim if your child is facing discrimination, how parents can obtain their children’s medical rights and how to opt their children out of a school’s curriculum.

It also shows parents how to engage with the school board or run for one of the seats.

The 53-page document also discusses topics like critical race theory and social-emotional learning.

In an interview Monday, Rokita said he chose to update his Parents’ Bill of Rights to answer questions his office had received from parents after the document was first released over the summer.

“My goal is to give parents the confidence that they need to interact and the knowledge they need to interact with this part of their government,” Rokita said.

Rokita said he notified Indiana schools Monday morning of the updated document.

He believes the new version encourages “constructive conversation” in school districts.

“If you’re going to run a free republic, at its very foundation, you need to have the citizenry engaged,” Rokita said. “That’s the point. That’s not political. That’s American.”

But some organizations say they believe the document is political and have concerns about the original Parents’ Bill of Rights and the updates made.

Rachel Burke of the Indiana PTA argues the document isn’t inclusive of all parents and students.

“He specifically mentions running for school board, which leaves out parents who aren’t citizens,” Burke said. “So immigrant children or children of immigrants. It leaves out parents who have been convicted of felonies.”

Burke called the document an “overstep” by the Indiana attorney general.

“I think that it is incredibly important that parents know what their rights are when it comes to their child’s public education and even their child’s public private education, and they should know their rights when it comes to the education of their child,” Burke said. “However, this is once again a document that doesn’t actually lay out parents specific rights when it comes to public education and instead it piecemeal targets very specific political agenda line items for very specific parents and parent groups.”

There are other ways all parents can be involved, such as reaching out to school leaders or joining parents’ organizations, Burke said.

Meanwhile, the Indiana School Boards Association says it welcomes parents to be engaged with their kids’ schools.

Its executive director, Terry Spradlin, provided a statement that reads: “The Indiana School Boards Association is an advocate for parental engagement in their children’s education. If the Parents’ Bill of Rights 2.0 inspires more parents to engage in a thoughtful, meaningful, and civil dialogue with their local school board and other school officials, ISBA will be thankful.”

The Parents’ Bill of Rights does not set any mandates for schools or parents.

If parents have concerns about Indiana education law, Rokita encourages them to contact their state lawmakers.

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