MADISON — A day after Virginia voters made clear they don’t like candidates who believe parents shouldn’t be involved in curriculum, the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) was warned it can’t keep a concerned mom out of her son’s classroom.
On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) sent KUSD Superintendent Bethany Ormseth a letter urging the district to allow parental classroom observation, as permitted under federal law. WILL represents the mother of a student at Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum (KTEC), a public charter school in the district.
The unidentified parent is concerned about her son’s poor grades, particularly in light of reports of regular classroom disruptions — including use of profane language, racial epithets, physical altercations, and property damage, according to WILL’s letter.
In September, the worried mom sought permission to observe the classroom to better understand the academic environment and the source of her son’s struggles. But officials at the charter school and the KUSD denied multiple requests and cited multiple inconsistent reasons, the letter states.
WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington said Kenosha Unified School District Chief of School Leadership Bill Haithcock told the mother that parental in-person observation would serve “no educational program,” despite KTEC’s charter contract, which explicitly states that “parents are important partners in the educational program at KTEC.”
“Later in an email, Mr. Haithcock wrote that it was not the ‘best idea right now’ to ‘expos[e] the class to an outside visitor,’ even though KUSD policies and Facebook pages indicate that KUSD tolerates many categories of outside visitors, such as non-profit organizations, mentors, and chaperones,” Lennington wrote. He noted the superintendent told his client in a phone call, “(I)f I let one parent visit, then there would be many that would want to visit,” and that the parent was “not connected to the educational curriculum.”
The district’s barring of parents from observing the classroom is illegal. Just ask former President Barack Obama.
As WILL’s letter notes, In 2015, President Obama signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” The law requires public schools to implement policies and procedures to ensure “the involvement of parents” in the educational setting. Under this law, KUSD must implement a policy allowing the “observation of classroom activities.” Additionally, parents must have “opportunities to volunteer and participate in their child’s class.”
“Other federal laws similarly guarantee transparency and pupil rights, including for example the right to access educational curriculum,” the letter warns.
“Public school classrooms should not be a ‘black box.’ Parents have the right to know what is being taught in classrooms, and federal law specifically gives parents the right to observe classrooms in person,” Lennington said in a press release. “Kenosha schools should reverse course, and view parents as partners in the education of children.”
KUSD Tanya Ruder said the district is aware of WILL’s letter and is working with legal council to review the matter.
Parents are pushing back nationally against overreaching educrats, school board members and politicians, as witnessed in Tuesday’s Virginia gubernatorial election results.
Pundits say Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe in part lost his bid to return to the governor’s seat (in a race that was his to lose) after he publicly stated parents don’t have any business getting involved in school business.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said in a debate against GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin, who won by nearly 80,000 votes in a state that Joe Biden won by 10 percentage points a year ago.
“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe added.
Parents in Virginia, Wisconsin and all across the country feel otherwise.