CENTRAL TEXAS - Should Texas school districts be required to tell parents everything about their students? Texas State Senator Konni Burton thinks they should. Burton crafted SB 242 after she said Fort Worth ISD issued a policy that marginalized parents as they worked with students who were questioning their gender identity.
"It began with the overreach of a school district in my local community that put into place new guidelines for their transgender students," wrote Burton on konniburton.com. "In those guidelines, the school district treated parents as potentially dangerous and completely marginalized their role in their child's life."
Burton's bill would make a parent entitled to "all written records of a school district concerning the parent’s child".
It covers, attendance records, test scores, grades counseling records, psychological records, applications for admission, health and immunization information, and teacher and school counselor evaluations.
It also requires disclosure of "full information regarding the school activities of the parent’s child and disclosure of any general knowledge regarding the parent’s child possessed by an employee of a school district."
Having all that information would make it easier for parents to find out what their child is dealing with, but local schools said their may be issues with the bill.
Temple ISD Superintendent Robin Battershell said the school does have some information they need to keep private -- even from parents.
"Counselors are there just for that, to council students. Some of that is academic and some of that is personal," Battershell said, "If this legislation goes through in its current format I think it would greatly impair the trust factor that students have with their counselors."
Battershell said counselors will not release information on a child's gender identity crisis if that child wants to keep it private.
Battershell said another issue would be created when teachers have to make reports about incidents in class. Parents would not be allowed to see information about other children so the reports would have to be heavily redacted.
A third issue was regarding reported child abuse. Battershell said those records should not be available to parents for the protection of the child.
Belton ISD spokesman Kyle DeBeer also had concerns about counselors who find out children have been abused.
"If there are concerns about potential child abuse that is a very special set of circumstances, and the law already provides a process for that," Debeer said.
Debeer said Belton ISD welcomes parent engagement and encourages parents to ask questions about their children and did not see any additional situations were the law would create a problem.
Both school districts said they would wait until the bill went through the legislative process before taking a stance on it. The 85th Texas Legislature will begin on January 10th 2017.