RALEIGH — On Jan. 18, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (CHC) school board voted unanimously to defy the new Parents’ Bill of Rights law.
The two reasons the board apparently voted to break the law involve provisions that prohibit teaching children in grades K-4 about so-called “gender ideology” and sexual topics as well as requiring parental notification if their child wants to use certain pronouns.
Should the CHC district attempt to teach gender ideology and sexual topics in K-4, it wouldn’t just violate the Parents’ Bill of Rights, it would also likely be breaking an existing state law that dictates sexual topics are not to be covered in schools until seventh grade, with some exceptions for introductory topics on puberty in fifth grade. The new law, however, does not bar education staff from answering student-initiated questions about those topics.
The same existing law issue could be applied to CHC’s complaints about the divulgement of pronoun preference to parents possibly putting a child in danger if the parents are not supportive of such a change.
The law’s section on “Notifications of Student Physical and Mental Health,” is specific, stating that ”When a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in the child becoming an abused juvenile or neglected juvenile, as those terms are defined in G.S. 7B-101.”
The statute citation is from the juvenile codes in Chapter 7B, with 7B-101 clearly defining abused juveniles.
Parental notification isn’t just limited to pronouns under the Parents’ Bill of Rights, it also covers notifying parents of student-requested changes for proper names or use of nicknames.
Additionally, the Parents’ Bill of Rights does place some limitations on parents; specifically, parents cannot abuse or neglect their children in violation of juvenile code statutes. Reporting responsibilities for abuse and neglect by education officials still exist in state law and are unchanged by the Parents’ Bill of Rights, as is the role of the courts in protecting children.
CHC’s Board Chair George Griffin has been quoted as saying the district would “stand up for what’s right” and won’t follow the law because it’s “just morally wrong, and we’re not going to do it this way.”
Griffin’s claim has led to implications that the district could be sued but it also raises the question if an elected school board can decide to break laws they don’t agree with, why should the district’s students follow rules or laws they don’t like.
In a post on X, Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) indicated the General Assembly will address “this lawless behavior” during the short session.
“When we pass laws for society, we can’t prevent them from being broken, but we can provide appropriate consequences,” Perry wrote. “School board members take an oath to uphold our State Constitution, and State Laws. There must be consequence for breaking laws, or moral hazard will rule the day. There would be no law and order or safety and security in our society without consequences.”
“I have spoken with several colleagues this morning. A supermajority voted for that legislation,” Perry wrote. “I look forward to addressing this lawless behavior in the short session. This presents a great opportunity to see where others stand on law and order.”
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden), in a brief interview with North State Journal, said he was aware of the situation as well as districts defying the state’s calendar law.
“I think in both instances the legislature ought to step in and I’m hopeful that members will be willing to do that,” Berger said.
State Superintendent Catherine Truitt also weighed in on the matter in on X.
“No. Sorry. You may not break the laws you don’t like – even in Chapel Hill,” wrote Truitt. “I worked with the legislature to pass the Parents Bill of Rights to protect children and empower parents and it’s unacceptable for Chapel Hill or anyone else to ignore it.”
The news also garnered attention from U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-09) who is running for state attorney general in November.
Bishop retweeted Truitt’s post, saying he will follow the law when “woke lefties” come for people’s children.
Bishop also said in a previous post on X, “After I’m sworn in as AG, local #ncpol elected officials who think they’re above the law are going to #findout.”
One of Bishop’s Democratic primary opponents, Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, claimed Bishop was targeting kids with his statement.
“I want to be clear here: Bishop isn’t threatening the school board. He’s threatening children. Disgusting,” Deberry said in her response post.
Bishop responded to Deberry, calling her out for supporting law-breaking.
“Shocker. One Democrat candidate for #ncpol top cop leaps to support local officials defying state law,” Bishop said. And @jeffjacksonnc is too shy to utter a peep. Same M.O. when Dems called to defund police & stop prosecuting thugs. Not one of them had the stones to call it out.”
The move by CHC follows the threat of a civil rights complaint over the Parents’ Bill of Rights law filed by three LGCT activist groups in the Buncombe County area; the Campaign for Southern Equality, Youth OUTright WNC, and PFLAG Asheville.
A letter from the groups dated Dec. 12 was sent to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and claims changes to Buncombe County Schools policies to comply with the law violate Title IX “to provide every student with a safe and non-discriminatory school environment.”