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​Bill allowing parents to sue teachers heading to the governor

Posted at 7:07 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 22:07:44-04

PHOENIX — A bill is heading to the governor's desk which allows parents to sue public schools if they believe teachers are interfering in the upbringing of their child. Supporters say parents have the right to know everything that's happening at school which involves their children.

In its original form, House Bill 2161 required teachers tell parents everything they know about their child. Including if they are LGBTQ. The amended bill does not require teachers to report such intimacies to parents.

"As trusted adults, sometimes students share their personal information with their teachers," State Representative Jennifer Pawlik, (D) Chandler District 17 said.

But the legislature is allowing parents to sue a school if they feel there is any interference, including anything which might affect the mental, emotional or physical health of the child. 

"Parents have a right to know every single thing that's being said, taught, looked at what have you with their kids. It's their kids," said State Representative Walt Blackman (R.) Snowflake District 6.

Supporters of HB 2161 say the threat of a lawsuit is necessary to ensure teachers and schools are transparent. Opponents don't see it that way. "It's amplifying the divide between teachers and parents," said State Representative Judy Schwiebert (D) North Phoenix-Glendale District 20.

The legislation was drafted after some parents became upset when schools began surveying students to help identify those who were struggling with mental health during the pandemic.

Schools will now need permission from parents before students can take surveys in the future. The new law says parents can ask to review their child's medical and school records. Before they were able to access the records upon request.