Parents Can Review Critical Race Theory Curricula Because of 1974 Law

Parents Can Review Critical Race Theory Curricula Because of 1974 Law Parents Can Review Critical Race Theory Curricula Because of 1974 Law Patti Hidalgo Menders speaks out against board actions during a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on October 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty)

By Peter Malbin | Wednesday, 02 February 2022 02:32 PM

Parents have the right to review public school curriculum and opt out of commonplace surveys used by third-party contractors in accordance with a little-known 1974 law.

America First Legal, a conservative legal group, is offering parents a guide to use the provisions of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, a largely unknown law that was passed in 1974 and updated most recently in 2002, to view and expose critical race theory (CRT) and other controversial curricula, The Washington Examiner reported.

"The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, 20 U.S.C. § 1232h, is one important — but until now little-used — tool for holding administrators and teachers accountable," the guide says.

Gene Hamilton, America First Legal's general counsel and vice president, said the law had been "on the books for decades" and that it "really provides parents with the ability to access information at a level that we don't think they're aware of right now," reported The Washington Examiner.

Under the law, public schools that receive federal funding must disclose to parents "any instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum for the student" and "for inspection" must provide "all instructional materials, including teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any applicable program," he explained.

"The federal law does not provide an obligation on the school district to widely disseminate the curriculum or to do anything affirmatively or proactively — it functions on this ask-and-ye-shall-receive type of a concept," Hamilton said, meaning parents will have to take the initiative to invoke their rights under the statute.

The provision requiring disclosure of survey materials is of particular importance, the America First Legal guide notes, as "certain school districts have retained survey and data-mining companies."

Critical race theory in public schools teaches that American institutions and culture are systemically racist and oppressive to racial minorities, especially Black people.

School boards, superintendents, principals, and teachers are grappling with issues surrounding CRT.

"If parents are engaged and object, then none [of] this sort of material should be forced on children," the guide says. "But if parents are disengaged and silent, the PPRA and other laws are ineffective."

Parents who seek to invoke the PPRA could face resistance from school administrators, Hamilton said, as most schools are probably not aware of their obligations under the statute.

If a school declines to follow the law, parents have the option to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, which can "terminate a school’s federal funding if the school has violated the law and refuses to voluntarily comply," according to the guide. Such a complaint must be filed within 180 days of a violation.

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