RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina Senate Democrats who perhaps didn’t like the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that Republicans announced on Tuesday are out with their own version.

Filed Thursday by state Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Greensboro), Sen. Sydney Batch (D-Wake) and Sen. Toby Fitch Jr. (D-Halifax), S860 in a concise list of 10 rights addresses what the authors said they feel are those items requested by parents in North Carolina.

Michael Garrett
State Sen. Michael Garrett

“Everyone agrees, parents should be involved in the education of our children,” Garrett said in a statement he provided in response to questions from WGHP. “Our bill, S860, outlines, after thoughtful conversations with parents, North Carolina’s homegrown Parents’ Bill of Rights.

“Unlike the other proposal in the Senate, our proposal isn’t imported from another state and forced on our parents and students. Unfortunately, the other proposal circulated by Senate Republican Leadership is HB2, classroom edition. North Carolinians know too well the cost of state sanctioned bigotry.”

The GOP bill, which its sponsor, Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) said emerged from what parents observed during COVID-19, addresses numerous topics, many already available to parents. But the element that gets much attention is the prohibition in kindergarten through third grade of curriculum and instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, which is being compared to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill enacted in Florida.

The Democrats’ bill enumerates these rights for a parent:

  • To access and review all education records, as authorized by the federal 13 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act relating to his or her child.
  • To make health care decisions for his or her child, unless otherwise provided by law, including Article 1A of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.
  • To have access to transparent data about school and district academic performance data.
  • To have access to information, data, and statistics as to the successes, shortcomings, or failures of each school his or her child is allowed to attend.
  • To know the nutrition facts of his or her child’s meals.
  • For his or her child to have a fully resourced classroom with the tools and technology to deliver curriculum requirements as required by the North Carolina Constitution.
  • To receive timely notification of information related to his or her child’s health, well-being, and education.
  • To know of threats to his or her child’s safety, whether to the child individually or to the school or local school administrative unit as a whole.
  • To have his or her child diagnosed and served by the education system for any learning disabilities that may affect the child’s educational outcomes.
  • To be able to sit in his or her child’s class, so long as it is within reasonable limits set by the local school administrative unit.

Texas shooting addressed

Garrett also pointed out that this bill responds to concerns that may have grown from parents in the wake of the murder 19 students and two teachers by an 18-year-old gunman at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“Additionally, our proposal addresses a parent’s right to know of threats against their child or their school, a glaring omission in the Senate Republican Leadership’s proposal,” he said. “S860 also gives parents a right to their child’s classroom being adequately resourced to deliver today’s curriculum as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution, another glaring omission in the Senate Republican Leadership’s proposal.”

The Senate Education Committee, which Ballard chairs, passed the bill along party lines on Wednesday, and the Senate Health Committee took it up for a vote on Thursday afternoon.

WGHP reached out via email to Ballard, Sen. David Craven (R-Randolph) and Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) in search of their reaction to the Democrats’ proposal, but none responded immediately.

GOP bill advances

Will Doran of The News & Observer in Raleigh wrote on Twitter that there was a big crowd at the Health Committee meeting to speak for/against the bill, but the committee would only allow comments on the portions that addressed health care. That mostly was about parental consent before treating a minor.

State Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Kernersville), the chair, said the committee only could consider the health care aspects, Doran wrote.

“We want to hear from you, but only on the health care portion,” she said.

Even if the GOP’s version of this bill – an amendment to a House Bill 755 passed last year – during this short session, Gov. Roy Cooper almost certainly would veto it. Democrats would have to vote with Republicans to override that veto.

NOTE: An earlier version of this article omitted the reference to “curriculum” in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.