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School district passes parental rights rules, complaint procedure for 120 days; policies out for 45-day review

In an amendment approved Monday night, parents must now approve whether their student can identify with a name other than the one listed in the district's system.

LCSD1 Storey Gym (Lisa Hushbeck/Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Laramie County School District 1 parents must now be notified if their student has a shift in emotional, social or physical wellbeing. But the new rules are currently effective for only four months.

On Monday night, the LCSD1 Board of Trustees amended and adopted two policies to comply with a new state law. The revised regulations require teachers and district administration to communicate with parents about any changes to student wellbeing. In addition, parents must sign off on their student engaging with class material discussing sexual orientation or gender or allowing their child to be identified with a name other than the one listed in the district’s system.

The trustees passed the policy on an emergency basis, which puts the rules into effect for 120 days temporarily. School boards across Wyoming are required to conform to the new state regulations by July 1. The board then voted to put the amendment out for a 45-day review, which is the first step they are taking to permanently approve the policies at a later date.

Parental rights

The first of the amended policies is Chapter 9, Section 16, “Parental Rights in Education.” The new regulations state that the district shall not adopt any other policies or regulations that would encourage a student from withholding information regarding their wellbeing from a parent. A district employee who is aware of a student’s change in ]wellbeing must report that information to their school administrator or designee. Parents will be notified about their child’s change in wellbeing.

Before any wellbeing questionnaire is distributed to students, the district must send a copy to parents to review before allowing their child to participate. Any parent that does not want their student to engage with the questionnaire must notify the school in writing.

Inside the classroom, instructors must receive written consent from a parent at least one day prior to lessons or courses addressing sexual orientation or gender identity. The district must notify parents at least two days prior to such lessons, which can take the form of syllabi, letters or emails. A parent must receive an overview of the planned material that highlights its educational value. If a parent does not consent to their child taking part in the instruction, then the school must provide the child with alternative educational activities.

Parents will be notified annually regarding their right to file a complaint with the district if they believe their rights have been violated, the policy states.

A copy of the amended parental rights policy can be viewed below.

Complaint procedure for parental rights

The second revised policy is Chapter 2, Section 10, “Complaint Procedures for Violations of Chapter 9, Section 16.” The complaint procedure allows parents to submit a written response to the superintendent if they believe district staff violated their parental rights. The complaints must be submitted within 10 days of an alleged violation.

The district superintendent will review the complaint and make a decision on it. The parent or guardian will be notified in writing about the superintendent’s course of action. 

Any parent or guardian not satisfied by the superintendent’s response may request a hearing to the board of trustees. Both the parent and superintendent have an opportunity to present their case to the board. The parent holds the burden of proof to convince the board that the superintendent’s decision did not align with the veracity of their initial complaint. No evidence shall be presented to the board — only what was originally communicated to the superintendent can be presented.

A copy of the complaint procedure policy can be viewed below.

Nickname amendment

Vice chair Christy Klaassen also proposed adding a section into chapter 9 that would require students receive permission from a parent or guardian for them to be identified by a name different from the one in the district’s system. A parent would list that preferred name under the “nickname” field when they register their student for the school year. The amendment is now in effect as part of the 120-day emergency order, but it is also included in the 45-day review.

Trustees Rene Hinkle and Brittany Ashby said they believed the language change was significant and therefore should undergo a 45-day public review before adoption. Susan Edgerton said the policy is a good idea and “clears things up from the teacher’s perspective.” Alicia Smith was also in favor of the amendment.

The school board is set to hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, July 15 at its usual meeting room in Storey Gymnasium, 2811 House Ave.