BILL REQ. #:  H-2380.1 


State of Washington61st Legislature2009 Regular Session

By House Education Appropriations (originally sponsored by Representatives Santos, Kenney, and Morrell)

READ FIRST TIME 03/02/09.   

     AN ACT Relating to increasing parental and community involvement in public education; adding a new section to chapter 28A.320 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 43.06B RCW; and creating new sections.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   The legislature finds that parents and guardians are their children's first and best teachers and that improving student achievement requires that parents be partners in their children's education. The legislature further finds that increased knowledge of and input regarding public education is particularly needed in low-income and ethnic minority communities.
     The legislature intends to increase public awareness of the importance of parental and community involvement in education and foster mutually respectful interactions in an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2   A new section is added to chapter 28A.320 RCW to read as follows:
     (1) Annually, school districts shall inform students and their parents or guardians of the rights set forth in this section, either orally or in writing depending on the mode of communication that best assures that the students and their parents or guardians understand their rights.
     (2) A reasonable effort shall be made to ensure that students and their parents or guardians are afforded the following rights:
     (a) To be treated respectfully by school staff and administrators;
     (b) To have their questions answered and their messages returned in a timely manner;
     (c) To be genuinely welcomed and encouraged to be involved, at school and at home, in the education process so as to promote and support student learning;
     (d) To receive timely communications from schools regarding standards and assessments, student performance, available educational programs and materials, and opportunities for parental involvement in their children's education and the school community;
     (e) To access education records in accordance with state and federal laws and to be advised of the policies and procedures regarding such access;
     (f) To be advised of their right to inspect, and the location of, all required school district policies, including but not limited to policies regarding bullying prevention and sexual harassment; and
     (g) To be advised of the existence, purposes, and contact information of the office of the education ombudsman.
     (3) This section does not authorize a school to inform a parent or guardian, or to permit participation by a parent or guardian, if to do so would conflict with a valid restraining order, protective order, or order for custody or visitation issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.
     (4) The legislature intends that students, their parents or guardians, the education ombudsman, and others who may seek to assist students, use the least formal means available to satisfactorily resolve disputes that may arise regarding the rights set forth in this section. Wherever feasible, direct discussion with school staff or administrators should be employed. This section is not intended to and shall not be construed to create a new private right of action. Nothing in this section may be construed to limit a party's ability to bring an action based on rights conferred by other state or federal law.
     (5) As used in this section, "parents" means: (a) Natural, adoptive, or foster parents; (b) guardians; and (c) individuals acting in the place of parents, including grandparents, stepparents, or other relatives, with whom the child lives, or individuals who are legally responsible for the child's welfare, consistent with the definition of "parent" as defined in the federal individuals with disabilities education act as existing on the effective date of this section.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3   A new section is added to chapter 43.06B RCW to read as follows:
     The education ombudsman shall report to the legislature regarding whether school districts have implemented the rights afforded in section 2 of this act. In so doing, the education ombudsman shall consult with the office of the superintendent of public instruction, school districts, parent and teacher organizations, and student groups.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4   If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5   If any part of this act is found to be in conflict with federal requirements that are a prescribed condition to the allocation of federal funds to the state, the conflicting part of this act is inoperative solely to the extent of the conflict and with respect to the agencies directly affected, and this finding does not affect the operation of the remainder of this act in its application to the agencies concerned. Rules adopted under this act must meet federal requirements that are a necessary condition to the receipt of federal funds by the state.

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