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ISBA to vote Friday on plan to track parents

ISBA to vote Friday on plan to track parents

Dustin Hurst
November 13, 2015
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November 13, 2015

Friday morning in Coeur d’Alene school district delegates across the state will vote on a controversial parental-tracking resolution during the Idaho School Boards Association business meeting.

The business meeting, part of the private association’s annual confab, will set the group’s agenda for the 2016 legislative session, scheduled to begin Jan. 12.

The Pocatello-Chubbuck School District submitted Resolution No. 5 to the ISBA, which asks Idaho lawmakers to “hold at bay” any further expansion of parental rights. The district’s request comes less than a year after legislators affirmed parents’ right to direct their kids’ education, direct their children’s religious training, and make health decisions for their offspring, among other tenets included in House Bill 113a.

That bill cleared the Idaho House of Representatives in February on a 37-to-31 vote and passed the Idaho Senate in March on a 27-to-7 vote.

Besides asking the Legislature to avoid expanding parental rights, the resolution takes another Big Brother step. The Pocatello-Chubbuck School District’s resolution wants the ISBA to track parents who use the law, passed earlier this year, to excuse their kids from controversial school activities or tests.

Per the resolution, “The Idaho School Boards Association will maintain a log of incidents that school districts are addressing in working with parents who take exception to various districts’ practices, and will work with the education community to communicate to the Idaho Legislature the impact of the exceptions on district personnel and district budgets, and will work with the Idaho Legislature to hold at bay any expansion of the parental rights in regard to education as outlined in House Bill No. 113a.”

IdahoReporter.com requested the talking points prepared for Pocatello-Chubbuck School District delegates to be used at the annual ISBA meeting, but district Superintendent Douglas Howell declined to release the presentation after initially promising to do so.

Two Canyon County parents, Tammy Nichols of Middleton and Mila Wood of Caldwell, have fought the resolution through social media and at their local school district meetings. The duo asked the Middleton School District to drop its ISBA membership, which costs taxpayers just more than $8,000 annually.

It’s unclear if Middleton will act on the request.

One Treasure Valley school board member thinks the ISBA resolution would violate parents’ natural rights. Kuna School District Trustee Michael Law told IdahoReporter.com this week that parental rights matter more than educators’ whims.

Schools should be reminded that their primary field of competence is academic, not social adjustment, or world citizenship, or sex education,” Law said. “Parents should stand firm on this and not be intimidated by professional educators. After all, it’s their children and their money.”

ISBA President Karen Echeveria recently told IdahoReporter.com the parental rights law places districts in the middle of a turf war between parents and the federal government. She stated, when parents excuse their children from controversial high-stake Common Core testing it likely violates federal education regulations.

“What is a school district to do?” she asked. “We’re going to breach one [government regulation] and comply with the other.”

Law’s school board voted last month to instruct its delegates to oppose the resolution. Besides his concern with ISBA fighting parental rights, Law doesn’t believe the ISBA needs to track parents.

“We already proactively try to keep track of issues with parents and try to address the issues as best as we can,” Law said.

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