Nearly 70 schools in the state of Missouri have enacted policies stating that districts are not required to disclose conversations about “academics and personal issues” between students and teachers or counselors to the student’s parent or guardian.
The policy, based on a sample provided by the Missouri School Board Association, was adopted by at least 68 Missouri school districts at the end of 2020 or the start of 2021, Fox News reported.
Specifically, it states that “there are many situations in which school employees will meet with individual students,” and that “school counselors meet with students to discuss academics and personal issues, teachers often discuss academic performance with students, and school officials meet with students when investigating disciplinary violations.”
“These conversations are an essential part of the educational process,” the policy states. “The district will not honor requests by parents/guardians to be informed prior to these discussions, be present during the discussions, or prohibit conversations between a student and staff members.”
Andy Wells is a parent with three children in a Missouri school district that enacted this policy. He is also the Missouri president of No Left Turn in Education, an organization promoting parents’ rights in education and emphasizing that parents are the primary custodians of their children, not the state or school officials.
Wells told Fox News that he believes it was not a coincidence that the policy was implemented about the same time the media began covering parents’ protests at the Loudon County School Board meetings in Virginia. Parents across the country had also begun attending school board meetings to ask questions about critical race theory and gender theory in the curriculum, as well as sexually explicit content in student reading materials.
At the time the policies were implemented, the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) was affiliated with the National School Boards Association (NSBA).
However, MSBA left the national association in October 2021, claiming it “demonstrated it does not currently align with MSBA’s guiding principles of local governance” after NSBA likened parents to “domestic terrorists” in a letter sent to President Joe Biden.
That letter had called on the Biden administration to take action to stop what it said described as “threats and acts of violence” against school boards, teachers, and others in public education from parents who were unhappy with masking policies and the teaching of critical race theory, among other things.
“What this tells me, is … when everything was first starting, when parents were first starting to ask questions about what’s going on in their schools, schools were scrambling on, ‘How do we not let parents know what’s going on?’” Wells said.
“Now, [teachers] are given permission to have a private conversation with a student without parental knowledge, parental consent, and the parents don’t even have the right by the policy to stop the conversations from happening,” Wells added.
Wells also questioned how the policy aligns with the Family Protection Act, which he said states that parents can have openness to their child’s records, and that “nothing can be hidden from mom and dad.”
“How in the world did that tie in?” Wells said.
However, Kelli Hopkins, an attorney for MSBA, told Fox News in a statement that the policy provided by the Missouri School Board Association is only applicable under specific circumstances.
“Nothing in policy JFGA gives authority to school personnel to keep information from parents of minor children, except in the circumstance where the Children’s Division is investigating whether the child is a victim of abuse by a parent,” Hopkins said. “All MSBA model policies comply with state and federal law.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the Missouri School Board Association for comment.