The Public Education and Parental Rights bill stalls in the Senate

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The Public Education and Parental Rights bill sailed through the House but stalled in the Senate Education Committee. There's language in the bill that didn't sit well with some lawmakers.

There's a sentence in HB 567 that says "parents have a right, responsibility and obligation to participate in the education of such minor children."

John Goedde is the Senate Education Committee chairman. He challenged the bill's original sponsor, Representative Janet Trujillo of the House Education Committee, before bringing it up for a hearing.

"I asked the representative to have stakeholders buy off on it. I gave her 4 stakeholder organizations in the state of Idaho. I heard back from three of those organizations, they do not favor moving this bill forward," Goedde said.

The stakeholders are the Idaho Education Association, The Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of School Administrators. The IEA crafted a letter on behalf of all three explaining why they're against the bill.

"The legislation creates an ambiguous statutory duty on parents where they have the obligation and responsibility to be involved in their children's education and we're afraid this ambiguity created legal burdens on parents that weren't there before," IEA attorney Paul Stark said.

There's especially concern over the word "obligation" found in the Bill. Some say it implies parent must be involved in their child's education or risk legal consequences.

"There's some concern about the word obligation. If we establish an obligation we may be contributing to another defense in custody cases that could make things really ugly in divorces especially child custody issues," said Goedde.

Representative Trujillo disagrees.

"To me that's a little bit of a stretch because of the intent of the legislation does not have any punitive damages in it and there are no definitions. It really was just an easy way for them to come out and protest (against the bill). They really don't want to see any new parental rights put into statutes," Trujillo said.