Parents in the Peoria Unified School District are growing frustrated as their efforts to ascertain exactly what their kids are learning are being blocked by both administrators and school board members.
On Thursday, February 25, 2021 parents attempted to share their concerns with officials, but were met with interruptions by board members, who appeared to either be oblivious to Arizona’s open meeting laws or willing to deliberately ignore them.
One parent in the district, Heather, stated that despite the board’s dismissive attitude, the parents are “fighting for our kids’ education” and want the board to understand that they are not going to stop fighting until they know that their kids and other kids in the district get the education they deserve.
During the February 25 meeting, two parents who stepped up to address the board were interrupted in what appeared to be violations of state law; A.R.S. 38-431.01 (H). Yet, board president, David Sandoval, lectured the public members about maintaining civility while ignoring board member Kory Underhill’s out of order comments.
Among many of their many concerns, the denial of access to classroom curriculum has been a particularly frustrating one for parents. Some of the district’s schools have outright refused to provide previous lesson plans to parents.
In previous years, if a teacher or the school wanted to show students the Presidential Inauguration, a form was sent home for parents to sign that allowed their student to participate. This year, the parents had no notification that all classes were shown the Presidential Inauguration. Parents say that is just a small example of how things have changed and indicates a growing disregard for parental rights.
Parents were also not notified when instead of the standard Civil Rights lessons that have been taught in the past, at least one educator opted to offer the more political lesson, “A History of Discrimination.”
Many parents feel as if their parental rights are being taken away by district personnel and practices. As a result, during the February 25 meeting, parent Heather reminded district personnel that A.R.S. 15-730 is still in place.
15-730. Access to instructional material by parents and guardians:
“On written request, school personnel designated by the governing board shall permit parents or guardians access to instructional materials currently used by or being considered for use by the school district by making available at least one copy of the instructional material for review by the parents or guardians. Parents or guardians may take printed textbooks, printed supplementary books and printed subject matter materials from the school district premises for a period of not more than forty-eight hours. Parents or guardians may review all other materials, including films, only on the school district premises.”
Peoria students have already had to endure a denial of access to the classroom due to stunts like the “Sick Out” that teacher and union leader Tina Berg admittedly coordinated, in contravention of Arizona law, with seemingly no consequences. So, it is unlikely that parents’ patience will last much longer and highly likely that they will take their concerns to state officials.
“It is critical now more than ever, in these days of Critical Race Theory, comprehensive sex education, The 1619 Project and so many other radical agendas being pushed into the classrooms by administrators, teachers and the unions, that parents must be able to trust that curricula will be made available in advance or if not then immediately upon request,” said former Peoria Unified School Board member and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “Anything less is a wholly unacceptable breech of the public trust in addition to breaking the law.”