New budget proposal would delay implementation of the Parents' Bill of Rights law

Published September 21, 2023

By Greg Childress

School districts would get extra time to implement policies required by the so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights” under the latest version of the state budget.

Under a draft version of the budget unveiled Tuesday, districts would have until Jan. 1 to put policies in place required under the new law. Senate Bill 49 required the policies to be in place by Sept. 15.

Districts, for example, must adopt rules and procedures for “parental concern hearings” and develop a parent guide to “student achievement.” School districts say that many of the procedures and rules required by the new law are already in place.

State lawmakers will hold budget votes later this week.

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt told the State Board of Education earlier this month that she and others with concerns about the law’s implementation were talking with lawmakers about extending the Sept. 15 deadline. Truitt said she felt good about the direction those talks were going.

The law requires educators to alert parents if their child changes their name or pronoun at school. It also restricts instruction about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms.

In addition to extending deadlines for adopt of new rules and procedures, the budget draft addresses questions educators had about student surveys and the type of medical care school officials can provide students.

The law exempts the N.C. Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the requirement that parents must give permission for children to take “protected information surveys” at school. It also makes clear that educators may provide emergency medical care to students when “reasonably apparent circumstances indicate that any delay would seriously worse the physical condition or endanger the life of the pupil.”

As NC Newsline previously reported, compliance with SB 49 has been time-consuming for district leaders and controversial for lawmakers. Democrats and Republicans intensely debated the bill before the state Senate approved it on a 26-13 party line vote, with all Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting no.

Democrats see SB 49 as an attack on LGBTQ students and their parents. They worry that LGBTQ students with unsupportive parents could be harmed if they’re outed. Republicans, however, say they believe parents have a right to know such information, regardless of circumstances.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed the bill, but the GOP leadership mounted a successful override on Aug. 16. That sent school districts scrambling to implement legally required policies ahead of the Sept. 15 deadline.