Bill setting up parent complaint policy over school material advances

Published 10:47 am Friday, February 24, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Legislation that would require local boards of education to adopt a complaint resolution policy to address parent complaints about materials they consider to be harmful to minors was approved by the Senate Education Committee as well as the full Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 5 is sponsored by Sen. Jason Howell, R-Murray. During his testimony, he stated, “This bill is set to address some information that parents might deem to be harmful to their kids at public schools. Its purpose is to guarantee parents’ involvement to end their child’s access to this material that they believe is harmful to their family values and interest. It defines sex-related materials, programs, or events that a parent may consider to be offensive or unsuitable for the minors.”

Steps in the complaint process described by Howell include:

1. A written detailed complaint submitted by parents to the school.

Email newsletter signup

2. Within seven business days, the principal conducts an investigation on removal, restriction, or letting the material remain.

3. Within ten days of the filing, the principal must get with the parent or guardian and inform them of the decision on the material.

4. Parents can appeal the principal’s decision to the school board, who will have 30 days to address the issues in an open meeting.

5. The board’s decision must be placed on the district’s website and in the newspaper with the largest circulation in that county.

Some members of the public spoke against the measure in committee.  One of them was Chuck Eddy, who testified, “I am concerned that we are going down a path that authoritarian countries go. I call this a book-banning bill, because that’s exactly what it is. Teachers are being frightened in order to books from their shelves. That’s wrong.”

The measure cleared The Senate Education Committee by an 11-1 margin, with Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, casting the lone “no” vote.  He also spoke against it on the Senate floor, calling it a book-banning bill, but it passed 29-4, and now heads to the House.