Law Limits Questions Students Can Be Asked without Parental OK

By Fischer, Howard | AZ Daily Star, May 19, 2016 | Go to article overview

Law Limits Questions Students Can Be Asked without Parental OK


Fischer, Howard, AZ Daily Star


PHOENIX -- Responding to concerns about intrusion, Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Wednesday to preclude students from being asked certain questions on assessments without prior parental consent.

Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, said the new law is not aimed at intruding on legitimate back-and-forth questions between teachers and students. Even queries about personal habits are OK, he said, as long as they're part of the teaching experience.

What's not OK, he said, are the written surveys conducted by schools, sometimes on behalf of outside groups or the federal government, that seek personal information about the students and their families.

The law is an outgrowth of complaints by some parents about what they saw as intrusive questions.

Sophia Cogan told lawmakers about a test prepared by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers that was administered to her son in 2014 at a Scottsdale school, as part of a national assessment.

"My son remembers being asked his religion and if he rode the bus to schools," Cogan said. "I was furious," she said. "Who knows what else they asked him?"

Aside from what Cogan said is unnecessary prying, she said PARCC has had problems with security, meaning the information her son and others provided isn't necessarily kept confidential.

The new law has a litany of questions that may not be asked without prior written parental consent.

Issues range from political and religious beliefs to sexual behavior and whether anyone in the family owns a gun. Questions about whether a family has an emergency plan in case of disaster would also be off-limits without a parent's OK.

The law has teeth. It allows any parent to complain to the attorney general or county attorney, who can sue the school to comply with the requirements. If a school doesn't cure the problem it is subject to a penalty of up to $500 for each violation.

"We were acknowledging nature's God and the fact that parents have been granted parental authority over their children, not the state," Finchem said Wednesday. …

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