Minnesota Parent Toolkit

Minnesota Parent Toolkit

As parents, it’s impossible not to have a little anxiety each morning dropping our kids off at school. Beyond the importance of a nutritious lunch and safe school environment, questions about teaching and learning are always on our minds. Are they getting the best instruction available? Is the curriculum undermining the values being taught at home? How can I partner with teachers and school administrators to make sure my child is supported and successful?

The Minnesota Parent Toolkit is created by parents, for parents with children in Minnesota schools. You’ll find the resources you need to know your rights as a parent so you can play an active role in your child’s education.

Know your rights and get engaged!

Right #1: Curriculum Review

Parents, did you know? Minnesota state law requires school districts to have a procedure in place for a parent to review the content of the instructional materials provided to their child and, if the parent objects to the content, make “reasonable arrangements” with school personnel for alternative instruction. Your involvement encourages transparency and accountability!

From Minnesota Statutes 120B.20:

“Each school district shall have a procedure for a parent…to review the content of the instructional materials to be provided to a minor child or to an adult student and, if the parent…objects to the content, to make reasonable arrangements with school personnel for alternative instruction. Alternative instruction may be provided by the parent…if the alternative instruction, if any, offered by the school board does not meet the concerns of the parent… School personnel may not impose an academic or other penalty upon a student merely for arranging alternative instruction…”  

Right #2: District Advisory Committee

A school board must establish an advisory committee to ensure active community participation in all phases of planning and improving instruction and curriculum affecting state and district academic standards. Whenever possible, parents and other community residents must comprise at least 2/3 of advisory committee members. Ask your school board for more information on serving in this capacity.

From Minnesota Statutes 120B.11:

Right #3: Student Survey Opt-Out

Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)  

Without parental consent, schools cannot require a student to answer questions about their political beliefs, mental problems or challenges, sexual behavior or attitudes, illegal of self-incriminating behavior, critical appraisals of people with close family relationships, relationships with lawyers, doctors and ministers, religious beliefs or practices, or income level (unless asked to determine participation eligibility).

These eight areas are considered protected information under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) and as such, schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to inform parents of any survey or questionnaire that gathers this information and to obtain their prior consent.

Additionally, parents have the right to inspect, upon request, a survey created by an outside entity that a school district wants to distribute or administer, along with any supplemental material (such as a teacher’s manual) that comes with the survey. Students can also tell their teacher they do not wish to take in-class surveys, questionnaires, or emotional “check-ins.”

According to Parents Defending Education, as it relates to social and emotional surveys, like those conducted by Panorama Education, parents do have the right under PPRA to opt-out.

Parents should ask your principals what the opt-out process is in their district. Many have district-specific opt-out forms that simply need to be signed and turned in to school officials.

Right #4: Sex and HIV/AIDS Education Opt-Out

Parents, you can opt your child out of participation in sex and HIV/AIDS instruction. We’ve attached the required opt-out form in both English and Somali below.

Right #5: Reconsideration of Materials

School districts must have a policy in place for reconsideration of textbooks, instructional materials, and library materials, including forms for formal objections and who to present the reconsideration requests to. Usually, these policies are numbered in the 600 range.

From Minnesota Statutes 124D.991:

A school library must have a “challenged materials procedure.” 

ADDITIONAL READING & RESOURCES:

Parents and students: You don’t have to take the survey

Resource reminds parents of their right to review curriculum

Survey says: Majority of educators believe parents should be involved in curriculum choices