House OKs letting parents review school materials

House OKs letting parents review school materials
Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Westmoreland (Source: Capital News Service)

By Rodney Robinson | Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Thirteen Democratic delegates split from bipartisan support of a House bill that allows parents to review anti-bullying or suicide prevention materials at their children’s school that may include graphic sexual or violent content.

HB 2107, carried by Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Westmoreland, “requires local school boards to develop and implement policies that ensure parents the right to review any audio-visual materials that contain graphic sexual or violent content used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention program,” according to the bill summary.

Parents could excuse their children from viewing the materials. The school would be required to provide written notice of a parent’s right to review the material and their right to excuse their child from participating in that part of the program, the bill says.

The bill heads to the Senate after passing the House, 86-13, on Tuesday.

Willie Deutsch, a member of the Prince William County School Board, supported the bill, saying, “Parental involvement is essential to a child’s academic success.”

“We need more parents involved in their children’s education,” Deutsch stated in a press release.

Deutsch used the opportunity to blast Del. Lee Carter of Manassas, who voted against the bill along with a dozen fellow Democratic delegates. “Sadly, Del. Carter made it clear that he opposes the important role of parents in their children’s education,” Deutsch said.

Carter declined to respond to Deutsch’s statement.

In 2016, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a similar bill that passed the House and Senate. That legislation required schools to notify parents of any sexually explicit teaching material used in the classroom. If parents chose not to allow their children to view the material, teachers would have to provide alternative assignments.

The House fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to override McAuliffe’s veto.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.