APS to tap community on parents rights policy - Albuquerque Journal

APS to tap community on parents rights policy

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools is going back to the drawing board on a controversial parents rights policy after the school board saw a flood of public outcry over the past month or so.

The proposal, tabled July 7, stated that parents would have the right to access “all educational records” concerning their child, including things told to school staff in confidence. Some advocates say making some of those records available would out certain LGBTQ+ students and make them unsafe.

“As a (transgender) man who began questioning who I was within the halls of Sandia High, this policy poses a danger to queer and (transgender) students by potentially outing them to a homophobic or transphobic family,” Tobias Godwin said at a July 20 board meeting.

Over the next two months, the board will consult with the community in revising the proposal. Board members are planning listening sessions with several groups, including counselors, parent-teacher associations and students.

They’ll also work with such community organizations as GLSEN Albuquerque, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group that was particularly outspoken about the policy.

The board plans to come up with a revised policy to present in October, with the idea of holding a final vote in November so they can have it in place in next year’s student handbook.

Board member Josefina Domínguez emphasized the need to be more mindful about how to word the revised policy.

“Let’s pay attention to the tone that words communicate,” she said. “They should be respectful and compassionate.”

The board’s plan is ambitious, GLSEN Albuquerque Co-Chair and Policy Coordinator Damon Carbajal says, but he feels reassured they’ll follow through on it.

“I am a little nervous, it seems a little rushed, to be honest, to really get educator, communities, student and parent (voices), and really solidify that into a whole new policy,” he told the Journal. “If they put in the work … it’s a timeline that’s feasible.”

Board Secretary Courtney Jackson, “lead author” of the proposal, said in a statement that it doesn’t grant any rights to parents or guardians that they don’t already have in APS.

Instead, she said, it just consolidates those rights into one accessible place. She said she based the idea for the proposal on community members reaching out with questions, which she herself had a hard time finding answers to.

“It occurred to me that there should be a singular policy that was very easy for parents to find, so that they could receive answers quickly,” she said.

She noted that students not feeling safe at home is a problem the community needs to face and said that parents shouldn’t be cut out of that process.

Carbajal acknowledged that much of the proposal is currently in APS policy, but said the problem was in the way the proposal was drafted and how it failed to factor in all the practices in place to protect students.

“Yes, there are these different things in APS policy, but it’s not how they were stated … prior,” Carbajal said. “This was the first time that they were put in a way that could be construed where (parents) had access to everything, in a way that was unproductive for students.”

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