Parents' Bill of Rights for Texas Public Schools

I believe that teachers and parents must work together to educate our children. Several years ago, I passed a Parents' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to make sure that parents can participate in decisions made concerning their children in our public schools.

These rules, which have been modified several times since their original passage, are part of the Texas Education Code and as such, they must be observed by every Texas public school, including charter schools.

Please note that parents have other rights that are not specifically in this list. Local school boards also have policies that may include additional rights and procedures, as long they do not conflict with those listed below.

It is always best to bring concerns to the attention of local administrators and school board members before enlisting help from the state. If you have a problem with your school, talk the principal or the person the principal designates. If you cannot resolve the situation at the school, contact the district superintendent's office. Ask how you can bring this issue to the attention of the district administration. If you still are unable to resolve the issue, your school board members are the local officials responsible for setting policy for the district. Your problem should be brought to your board member's attention.

If all attempts to resolve the problem fail, and you believe that either the Parents' Bill of Rights or another education law is being violated, you can contact the Texas Education Agency for guidance. They are the Texas agency responsible to assuring that school districts and charter schools follow Texas education laws.

Here is the current version of the Texas Parents' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, including changes made during the 2005-06 legislative sessions:

Texas Parent's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
(Texas Education Code, Chapter 26)

Purpose

(a) Parents are partners with educators, administrators, and school district boards of trustees in their children's education. Parents shall be encouraged to actively participate in creating and implementing educational programs for their children.

(b) The rights listed in this chapter are not exclusive. This chapter does not limit a parent's rights under other law.

(c) Unless otherwise provided by law, a board of trustees, administrator, educator, or other person may not limit parental rights.

(d) Each board of trustees shall provide for procedures to consider complaints that a parent's right has been denied.

(e) Each board of trustees shall cooperate in the establishment of ongoing operations of at least one parent-teacher organization at each school in the district to promote parental involvement in school activities.

Definition

In this chapter, "parent" includes a person standing in parental relation. The term does not include a person as to whom the parent-child relationship has been terminated or a person not entitled to possession of or access to a child under a court order. Except as provided by federal law, all rights of a parent under Title 2 of this code [the part of the Texas Education Code that pertains to public schools] and all educational rights under Section 151.001(a)(10), Family Code, shall be exercised by a student who is 18 years of age or older or whose disabilities of minority have been removed for general purposes under Chapter 31, Family Code, unless the student has been determined to be incompetent or the student's rights have been otherwise restricted by a court order.

Rights Concerning Academic Programs

(a) A parent is entitled to:

(1) petition the board of trustees designating the school in the district that the parent's child will attend, as provided by Section 25.033;

(2) reasonable access to the school principal, or to a designated administrator with the authority to reassign a student, to request a change in the class or teacher to which the parent's child has been assigned, if the reassignment or change would not affect the assignment or reassignment of another student;

(3) request, with the expectation that the request will not be unreasonably denied:

(A) the addition of a specific academic class in the course of study of the parent's child in keeping with the required curriculum if sufficient interest is shown in the addition of the class to make it economically practical to offer the class;

(B) that the parent's child be permitted to attend a class for credit above the child's grade level, whether in the child's school or another school, unless the board or its designated representative expects that the child cannot perform satisfactorily in the class; or

(C) that the parent's child be permitted to graduate from high school earlier than the child would normally graduate, if the child completes each course required for graduation; and

(4) have a child who graduates early as provided by Subdivision (3)(C) participate in graduation ceremonies at the time the child graduates.

(b) The decision of the board of trustees concerning a request described by Subsection (a)(2) or (3) is final and may not be appealed.

Access to Student Records

A parent is entitled to access to all written records of a school district concerning the parent's child, including:

(1) attendance records;

(2) test scores;

(3) grades;

(4) disciplinary records;

(5) counseling records;

(6) psychological records;

(7) applications for admission;

(8) health and immunization information;

(9) teacher and counselor evaluations; and

(10) reports of behavioral patterns.

Access to State Assessments

Except as provided by Section 39.023(e), a parent is entitled to access to a copy of each state assessment instrument administered under Section 39.023 to the parent's child.

Access to Teaching Materials

(a) A parent is entitled to:

(1) review all teaching materials, textbooks, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent's child; and

(2) review each test administered to the parent's child after the test is administered.

(b) A school district shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents. The district may specify reasonable hours for review.

(c) A student's parent is entitled to request that the school district or open-enrollment charter school the student attends allow the student to take home any textbook used by the student. Subject to the availability of a textbook, the district or school shall honor the request. A student who takes home a textbook must return the textbook to school at the beginning of the next school day if requested to do so by the student's teacher. In this subsection, "textbook" has the meaning assigned by Section 31.002.

Access to Board Meetings

(a) A parent is entitled to complete access to any meeting of the board of trustees of the school district, other than a closed meeting held in compliance with Subchapters D and E, Chapter 551, Government Code.

(b) A board of trustees of a school district must hold each public meeting of the board within the boundaries of the district except as required by law or except to hold a joint meeting with another district or with another governmental entity, as defined by Section 2051.041, Government Code, if the boundaries of the governmental entity are in whole or in part within the boundaries of the district. All public meetings must comply with Chapter 551, Government Code.

Right to Full Information Concerning Student

(a) A parent is entitled to full information regarding the school activities of a parent's child except as provided by Section 38.004.

(b) An attempt by any school district employee to encourage or coerce a child to withhold information from the child's parent is grounds for discipline under Section 21.104, 21.156, or 21.211, as applicable.

Right to Information Concerning Special Education and
Education of Students with Learning Disabilities

(a) The agency shall produce and provide to school districts sufficient copies of a comprehensive, easily understood document that explains the process by which an individualized education program is developed for a student in a special education program and the rights and responsibilities of a parent concerning the process. The document must include information a parent needs to effectively participate in an admission, review, and dismissal committee meeting for the parent's child.

(b) The agency will ensure that each school district provides the document required under this section to the parent as provided by 20 U.S.C. Section 1415(b):

(1) as soon as practicable after a child is referred to determine the child's eligibility for admission into the district's special education program, but at least five school days before the date of the initial meeting of the admission, review, and dismissal committee; and

(2) at any other time on reasonable request of the child's parent.

(c) The agency shall produce and provide to school districts a written explanation of the options and requirements for providing assistance to students who have learning difficulties or who need or may need special education. The explanation must state that a parent is entitled at any time to request an evaluation of the parent's child for special education services under Section 29.004. Each school year, each district shall provide the written explanation to a parent of each district student by including the explanation in the student handbook or by another means.

Requests for Public Information

(a) A school district or open-enrollment charter school that seeks to withhold information from a parent who has requested public information relating to the parent's child under Chapter 552, Government Code, and that files suit as described by Section 552.324, Government Code, to challenge a decision by the attorney general issued under Subchapter G, Chapter 552, Government Code, must bring the suit not later than the 30th calendar day after the date the school district or open-enrollment charter school receives the decision of the attorney general being challenged.

(b) A court shall grant a suit described by Subsection (a) precedence over other pending matters to ensure prompt resolution of the subject matter of the suit.

(c) Notwithstanding any other law, a school district or open-enrollment charter school may not appeal the decision of a court in a suit filed under Subsection (a). This subsection does not affect the right of a parent to appeal the decision.

(d) If the school district or open-enrollment charter school does not bring suit within the period established by Subsection (a), the school district or open-enrollment charter school shall comply with the decision of the attorney general.

(e) A school district or open-enrollment charter school that receives a request from a parent for public information relating to the parent's child shall comply with Chapter 552, Government Code. If an earlier deadline for bringing suit is established under Chapter 552, Government Code, Subsection (a) does not apply. This section does not affect the earlier deadline for purposes of Section 552.353(b)(3) for a suit brought by an officer for public information.

Consent Required for Certain Activities

(a) An employee of a school district must obtain the written consent of a child's parent before the employee may:

(1) conduct a psychological examination, test, or treatment, unless the examination, test, or treatment is required under Section 38.004 or state or federal law regarding requirements for special education; or

(2) make or authorize the making of a videotape of a child or record or authorize the recording of a child's voice.

(b) An employee of a school district is not required to obtain the consent of a child's parent before the employee may make a videotape of a child or authorize the recording of a child's voice if the videotape or voice recording is to be used only for:

(1) purposes of safety, including the maintenance of order and discipline in common areas of the school or on school buses;

(2) a purpose related to a co-curricular or extracurricular activity;

(3) a purpose related to regular classroom instruction; or

(4) media coverage of the school.

Refusal of Psychiatric or Psychological Treatment of Child
as Basis of Report of Neglect

(a) In this section, "psychotropic drug" has the meaning assigned by Section 261.111, Family Code.

(b) An employee of a school district may not use or threaten to use the refusal of a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of a child to administer or consent to the administration of a psychotropic drug to the child, or to consent to any other psychiatric or psychological testing or treatment of the child, as the sole basis for making a report of neglect of the child under Subchapter B, Chapter 261, Family Code, unless the employee has cause to believe that the refusal:

(1) presents a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury to the child; or

(2) has resulted in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child.

Exemption From Instruction

(a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent's child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent's child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester.

(b) This section does not exempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements in a manner acceptable to the school district and the agency.

Complaints

The board of trustees of each school district shall adopt a grievance procedure under which the board shall address each complaint that the board receives concerning violation of a right guaranteed by this chapter.

Fee for Copies

The agency or a school district may charge a reasonable fee in accordance with Subchapter F, Chapter 552, Government Code, for copies of materials provided to a parent under this chapter.

Student Directory Information

(a) A school district shall provide to the parent of each district student at the beginning of each school year or on enrollment of the student after the beginning of a school year:

(1) a written explanation of the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g), regarding the release of directory information about the student; and

(2) written notice of the right of the parent to object to the release of directory information about the student under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g).

(b) The notice required by Subsection (a)(2) must contain:

(1) the following statement in boldface type that is 14-point or larger:

"Certain information about district students is considered directory information and will be released to anyone who follows the procedures for requesting the information unless the parent or guardian objects to the release of the directory information about the student.

If you do not want [insert name of school district] to disclose directory information from your child's education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the district in writing by [insert date].

[Insert name of school district] has designated the following information as directory information: [Here a school district must include any directory information it chooses to designate as directory information for the district, such as a student's name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, photograph, degrees, honors and awards received, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, most recent educational institution attended, and participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and the weight and height of members of athletic teams.]";

(2) a form, such as a check-off list or similar mechanism, that:

(A) immediately follows, on the same page or the next page, the statement required under Subdivision (1); and

(B) allows a parent to record:

(i) the parent's objection to the release of all directory information or one or more specific categories of directory information if district policy permits the parent to object to one or more specific categories of directory information;

(ii) the parent's objection to the release of a secondary student's name, address, and telephone number to a military recruiter or institution of higher education; and

(iii) the parent's consent to the release of one or more specific categories of directory information for a limited school-sponsored purpose if such purpose has been designated by the district and is specifically identified, such as for a student directory, student yearbook, or district publication; and

(3) a statement that federal law requires districts receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. Section 6301 et seq.) to provide a military recruiter or an institution of higher education, on request, with the name, address, and telephone number of a secondary student unless the parent has advised the district that the parent does not want the student's information disclosed without the parent's prior written consent.

(c) A school district may designate as directory information any or all information defined as directory information by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g). Directory information under that Act that is not designated by a district as directory information for that district is excepted from disclosure by the district under Chapter 552, Government Code.

(d) Directory information consented to by a parent for use only for a limited school-sponsored purpose, such as for a student directory, student yearbook, or school district publication, if any such purpose has been designated by the district, remains otherwise confidential and may not be released under Chapter 552, Government Code.

The source for all information on this page is the Texas Legislature Online, the web site of the Texas Legislature. The information was downloaded and posted initially on November 22, 2003, and revised most recently on January 15, 2007.

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