- The Florida Department of Education on Monday published a new rule provision that falls under the Parental Rights in Education bill
- The rule outlines the role of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. in the event of a complaint raised against a school or district
- The rule also mandates that parents must demonstrate attempts to discuss complaints with school principals or administrators before being challenged under the new law
The Florida Department of Education on Monday released provisions for a proposed rule as part of the “Parental Rights in Education statute.” The proposal outlines alternative measures that can be taken to resolve a complaint filed by a parent against a school or district.
Instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity “may not occur” in kindergarten through third grade, according to the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March. Instruction that is not “age-appropriate or developmentally acceptable” for students in grades outside of the listed range is also liable to lawsuits and state intervention.
“The bill takes three main steps: first, the bill prohibits classroom instruction about sexuality or things like transgender in kindergarten through third grade classrooms, and after third grade, those curriculums need to be age-appropriate. Second, the bill ensures that at the beginning of every school year, parents will be notified about healthcare services offered at the school, with the right to decline any service offered. And finally, this bill ensures that whenever a questionnaire or health screening is given to our young students, parents receive it first and give permission to the school to give it to their child,” said DeSantis upon its signing.
Under the rule, parents are required to prove that they sought resolution of disputes with school principals before initiating hearings regarding the matter.
The published rule also establishes the roles and responsibilities of the state education commissioner and school districts. According to the proposal, Manny Diaz, Jr., the Education Commissioner, would be in charge of examining all pending requests from parents. The rule also specifies the judicial processes for magistrate hearings.
“The parties or the magistrate may call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses and enter evidence into the record. Witnesses shall be examined under oath,” the proposed rule said, as reported by News Service of Florida.
The effects of the Parental Rights bill are already being felt in some districts. In Miami-Dade County, the school board for the local school system voted to reject new sexual education textbooks that it initially approved three months ago under fear of violating the new law.