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Eye On Boise

Rep. Trujillo’s ‘parental rights’ bill raises questions

Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, is presenting her parental rights bill, HB 567, to the House Education Committee this morning. “One argument I’ve heard against this bill is it would allow for opt-out on standardized testing,” Trujillo told the committee. “The fact is, student achievement and standardized tests are higher when parents are involved in their children’s education.”

The bill has 18 legislative co-sponsors, all Republicans. Its wording doesn’t mention standardized testing, instead just saying, “Under the United States Constitution and as recognized by Idaho courts, parents and legal guardians who have legal custody of minor children have a right, responsibility and obligation to participate in the education of such minor children. It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision and upbringing of their children.”

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said he’s concerned about an unintended consequence of the bill, that by including the word “obligation” it “could be used as some sort of a tool by parents in a custody battle or child welfare situations,” with perhaps one parent claiming his or her ex wasn't meeting the obligation and therefore should lose custody. Clow said he shared his concern with the Idaho Attorney General’s office, and was advised that the concern could be addressed by simply removing the word “obligation.” He asked Trujillo if she’d do that, but she said, “The basis of this legislation is not to be used as a punitive measure.” She said the wording of the bill is “pretty much verbatim from a long line of Supreme Court decisions. … So I’m not one to say that the Supreme Court language is problematic.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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