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Parental Rights: Curriculum Opt-outs in Public Schools

Description: The purposes of this dissertation were to determine the constitutional rights of parents to shield their children from exposure to parts of the public school curriculum that the parents find objectionable on religious, moral, or other grounds and to determine the statutory rights of parents to remove, or opt-out, their children from objectionable parts or all of the public school curriculum as set forth in the statutes of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Many pivotal federal court cases dealing with parent rights and curricular issues, including Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education (1987), Vandiver v. Hardin County Board of Education (1987), Brown v. Hot, Sexy, & Safer Productions, Inc. (1995), Leebaert v. Harrington (2003), and Parker v. Hurley (2008) were surveyed using legal research methods. Specific types of curriculum opt-outs (e.g., sex education, comprehensive health programs, HIV/AIDS instruction) granted by each state were ascertained. States' statutes and regulations were categorized as non-existent, restrictive, or permissive based on the scope and breadth of each state's curriculum opt-out statute or regulation. A long list of federal court rulings have provided public schools the right to teach what school boards and administrators determine is appropriate. Parents did not have any constitutional right to opt their children out of public school curriculum. Many states' legislatures have granted parents a statutory right to opt their children out of certain parts of school curricula. In this study, 7 states had non-existent statutes or regulations, 18 states had restrictive statutes or regulations, and 26 states had permissive statutes or regulations.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Rogers, Tommy Kevin