New Parental Rights in Education Bill in Florida

The new parental rights bill is focused on parental rights in school settings.  Much of it is directed at what school districts can and cannot do and parents' rights about how their children are treated and taught in school.

Many things are changing in the US and Florida regarding new cultural norms and procedures and processes that are adapting to address changes.  Everyday there is an article in the local and national news about complaints and conflicts over the federal, state, and local school district rule changes impacting our children.

A summary of “Parental Rights in Education Bill.”

The bill (Chapter 2022-22, L.O.F.) reinforces a parent’s fundamental right to make decisions regarding the care and upbringing of his or her child in the public school setting. The bill requires each district school board to adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being. All procedures adopted under the bill must require school district personnel to encourage a student to discuss issues related to his or her well-being with his or her parent.

The bill prohibits a school district from maintaining procedures that require school district personnel to withhold from a parent, or encourage a student to withhold, information related to a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being. School district procedures may authorize school district personnel to withhold information only for a reasonable belief that disclosure would subject the student to abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

The bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.

At the beginning of each school year, a school district must notify parents of all healthcare services offered at their student’s school and provide parents the opportunity to individually consent to or decline each service. Additionally, schools may not administer a well-being questionnaire or health screening form to a student in kindergarten through grade 3 without first receiving consent from the student’s parent.

The bill requires each school district to adopt procedures for a parent to notify the principal of concerns regarding the provisions in the bill, and the process for resolving problems within seven days of the complaint. The bill specifies that, if the school district does not resolve the complaint after an additional 30 days, a parent may:

  • Request the Commissioner of Education appoints a special magistrate who meets the qualifications established in the bill. The special magistrate must recommend a resolution to the State Board of Education (SBE) within 30 days. The SBE must approve or reject the recommendation between 7 and 30 days after the recommendation. The school district must pay the costs of the special magistrate.
  • Bring an action against the school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that the school district procedure or practice violates the provision in the bill and seek injunctive relief. A court may award damages and must award reasonable attorney fees and court costs to a parent who receives declaratory or injunctive relief.

The bill requires all school district student support services training to adhere to guidelines, standards, and frameworks established by the Department of Education (DOE). By June 30, 2023, the DOE must review and update, as necessary, all relevant guidelines, standards, and frameworks for compliance with the bill.

These provisions were approved by the Governor and take effect on July 1, 2022.

The debate extends beyond the parents.

Couples and grandparents don’t always agree on how children should be raised, and current rapid changes in our culture are making matters worse.  Work-from-home parents, separated parents, adoptive parents, mixed families, stay-at-home dads, single parents, and many circumstances are now becoming common.  These and other circumstances confuse parental rights at school and home.

Grandparents are providing child care in many instances as child care centers are still recovering from the Covid 19 issues and difficulty finding workers.  Young adult couples are becoming estranged from their parents due to different values or just difficulty agreeing on today's parenting.

After leaving most of the COVID issues behind us, inflation is impacting the costs of child care, private schools, and commuting.  We have always had problems that affect raising a family, but new issues seem to be coming at us at an alarming rate.

The laws on parental and grandparents rights keep changing.

In many cases, when there is a problem, or you suspect there is going to be a problem, it is best to contact an attorney that is an expert in parental rights and Florida laws.  You may never need to court to resolve an issue, but knowing your rights can make a difference when confronting a conflict.

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