Christine Lewis & Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, parental rights
Parental Rights in Educational Process
Ph.D. Student in Educational Leadership
College of Education
Prairie View A&M University
William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Professor and Faculty Mentor
PhD Program in Educational Leadership
Prairie View A&M University
Member of the Texas A&M University System
Visiting Lecturer (2005)
Oxford Round Table
University of Oxford England
Distinguished Alumnus (2004)
Central Washington University
College of Education and Professional Studies
Parents and guardians of enrolled students have the right to be a part of the
educational process. Parents have the right to control the upbringing of their
children. Parents are important to their child’s education, if all children are to
receive a quality education, parents cannot be left out. Parent’s rights cannot be
taken away. Parents have to stand up for their rights and get involved in their
Parents have the right to choose the type of education their children receive;
parents can choose if their children go to public, private or be home schooled. Parents
have the right to the upbringing of their children. They won that right in the case of
Meyer v. Nebraska (1923). The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
of the United States Constitution protected rights from abridgment by state leaders and
governments. It includes some rights that were not protected from abridgment by the
federal government. Parents and guardians are encouraged and are welcomed to get
involved in the formal education of their children that are enrolled in public schools.
Parental involvement helps children to do well academically. When parents develop a
partnership with schools, the student, school, and community will be successful. Parents
have the right to request a conference with their child’s teacher(s) or the principal.
Parents have the right to volunteer their time and resources to improve the school
facilities and programs. Parents have the right to be notified in a timely manner if their
child is absent from school without permission and of the child’s performance on
standardized, state-wide tests and any other test administered by the school. Parents have
the right to request a safe school environment for their children. If parents want to see the
curriculum materials of a class or classes, they have the right to make the request. Parents
have the right to know how their child or children are performing academically. All
student records should make available to parents. Parents have the right to receive written
notification of school rules, attendance policies, dress codes, procedures for school
visitations and any psychological testing that is recommended for their child or children.
Parents and guardians have the right and should be given the opportunity to work in a
mutually supportive and respectful partnership with the school to help their child succeed.
School district shall adopt a jointly created policy that outlines how parents and
guardians, school staff, and students may share the responsibility for the intellectual,
physical, emotional, social development, and well-being each student How parents or
guardians and the school will help students to achieve academic and other standards.
Purpose of the Article
The purpose of this article is to discuss the rights of parents in the educational
process of their children and parent’s rights to have access to the schooling system on
behalf of their child or children’s education. Court cases will be identified in this article
to establish the rights of parents.
Parental Rights Taken Away
Parents in Texas have the right to choose if their children will attend public,
private or home schools. Parents in Texas gain this privilege after parents from different
states battled with the Supreme Court and lost. In 1923, the U.S Supreme Court stated
that parents have the right to control their children’s upbringing. Nebraska, along with
other states, prohibited the teaching of modern foreign languages to grade school
children. In Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), Meyer, who taught German in a Lutheran school,
was convicted under this law because he taught in the native language of the student. In
this court case, parents gained the right to teach their children in their native language. In
1919, Nebraska passed a law prohibiting anyone from teaching any subject in any other
language except English. In addition, foreign languages could be taught only after the
child had passed the eighth grade (p. 397). The legislature thought if they allowed
foreigners, who had taken residence in the United State of America, to rear and educate
their children in the language of their native land, it would be bad for the safety of the
people of this country. The obvious purpose of this statute was that the English language
should be and become the mother tongue of all children reared in this country.
In Ryans v Gresham (1998), a parent was arrested for demanding to sit in her
child’s classes in Livingston I.S.D. The teacher did not grant her permission and because
she insisted to do so, she was arrested. The rights of parents are continuing to be taken
away. In 1999, parents in Oregon argued that a mandated student-testing program was
forcing their children to learn beliefs and attitudes that the parents objected. They lost
their case with the federal appeals court Tennison v Paulus (1999).
Parents Have Rights
Texas statutory law gave parents full partnership in their children education. In
recent years, Texas has gone a step farther to allow parents to choose where their children
are educated whether it is in public, private or home schooling. Texas legislature rewrote
the Education Code in 1995 and added chapter 26 titles, Parental Rights and
Responsibilities. Chapter 26.001 recognized parents as partner in their children education
and encouraged them to get involved in creating and implementing the education
programs for their children. The statute required the board of trustees to develop at least
one parent-teacher organization in each school in all districts. It also stated parents could
address their likes and dislikes without being arrested.
Parents were given the right by the Commissioner of Education to have an
attorney present when they filed a grievance against the school board on behalf of their
children. Sinton ISD refused a parent the right to be represented by a counsel at a
grievance hearing before the school board, while the school board had its attorney
present. If a parent is denied the right to be represented by an attorney at a hearing, the
parent is denied a fair hearing. This was the case occurred in Sinton ISD. James N, v.
Sinton I.S.D (1999).
TEC 25.031 allowed for school officials to zone students to any school they want
within the district, but TEC 25.033 also gave parents the right to ask the school board to
place their children at a particular school. Under section 26.003 of the Code, parents can
ask the principal of the school to put their children in a particular class or with a
particular teacher if the change will not affect another student. Parents have the right to
ask academic classes to be added to the curriculum if they will not cause the district
hardship. Parents can also ask their children to be placed in a class above their children
grade level. They can also ask their children to graduate early if all requirement and
qualifications are met.
In all school districts, there are schools that are not able to meet AYP
requirements. They are classified as low-performing schools. Parents have the right to
request that their children attend another school in the district that is not low performing.
Students can also receive a public education grant PEG to attend school in another school
Texas law gives parents the rights to all written records concerning their children.
Written records include attendance records, test scores, disciplinary records,
psychological records, and teachers and counselor evaluations. Parents have the right to
review all classroom teaching materials and tests previously administered to their child.
Parents have the rights to say if schools can perform a psychological examination, test, or
treatment to their children if is not related to child abuse. Schools cannot make video or
audio tape recordings of students without the parent’s consent. If a videotape is made of
student, it cannot be released to a third party. If parents think a class activity conflicts
with their religious beliefs, they can asked for a temporary exemption. Public schools
have come a long way in granting rights to parents. Parents can now speak on behave of
their children and be hears without rejection.
Parents have responsibility to educate their children; they must enjoy true liberty
in their choice of schools. Public power, which has the must protect and defend the rights
of citizens, must see to concern for justice, that public subsidies are paid out in such a
way that parents can choose the schools their children will attend . Therefore the state
must protect the right of children to get an school education, check on the ability of
teachers and the excellence of their training, look after the health of the pupils and
promote the whole school project. All teachers in schools should be well prepared to
education all children. Parents can assist in work of the schools. Parents have the right to
prepare their own children to receive an education, using textbooks or videos. Parents
have the responsibility to teach their children by good example. Parent has the right to
challenge public school curricula.
The ruling of the U.S. Supreme court in the 1923 Meyer case, ruled that parents
had the right to the upbringing of their children, but the case did not stop the state form
demanding that all children should attend school at the age of five until the age of
eighteen. The state, however, cannot tell parents that their children must be educated at
public schools. In the ruling of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the state lost and the Supreme
Court ruled in favor of parents.
The Society of Sister (1922) filed the case with the U.S. Supreme Court against
the state of Oregon:
The state of Oregon passed the Compulsory Education Act, which required every
child from the ages of eight to sixteen to attend a public school and the public
school shall be held during the current year in the district where the child resides;
failure to do so was declared a misdemeanor (p.534).
The state cannot demand that all children are educated at public schools. Parents can
choose to send their children to private schools or home school them.
Parents can also choose to educate their children at home once they have a curriculum
that meets the basic standard educational goals of reading, spelling, grammar,
mathematics, and a study of citizenship. According to the compulsory education law
adopted by the State Broad of Education, TEA cannot enforce any restrictive on the
parents once they are following the basic conditions. Annie Swanson and her parents
filed suit claiming refusal to allow her to attend public school on a part-time basis
violated her rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution as
well as her parent’s constitutional right to direct her education under Oklahoma state law.
They did not win, but they stood up for parental rights.
Parents can use the bible in the education of their children the government does
have the right to dictate where such education takes place and who will provide the
education. In other words, parents have the right to determine whether their children will
be educated at home, or in a private school or public school setting. As long as education
is taking place, parents have the right to teach their children whether they have a teaching
The case of Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
Members of the Old Order Amish religion and the Conservative Amish
Mennonite Church, were convicted of violating Wisconsin’s compulsory school
attendance law which requires a child's school attendance until age 16 by
declining to send their children to public or private school after they had
graduated from the eighth grade. The evidence showed that the Amish provide
continuing informal vocational education to their children designed to prepare
them for life in the rural Amish community. The evidence also showed that
respondents sincerely believed that high school attendance was contrary to the
Amish religion and way of life, and that they would endanger their own salvation
and that of their children by complying with the law.
The State Supreme Court agree with the families claim that all children should attend
public school law do violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First
Amendment, written into the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.
In conclusion, the purpose of this article is to discuss parental rights in their
children’s education and supreme and district court rulings across the nation that are
related to parent’s rights. Five court cases were identified for the research. The U.S.
Supreme Court granted parents the right to the upbringing of their children. However,
with that ruling the state could implement that parents must send a child in
Their care to school beginning on their 5th
birthday and they will attend school
until the age of 18. The landmark cases identified explained the rights parents have in the
educational process of their children. The state cannot tell parents that their children have
to go to public school.
Local or state governments can guarantee this alleged right in two basic ways.
They can own and operate all the public schools and force all children to attend these
schools, or they can give subsidies vouchers to parents to pay for tuition in the private
school of their choice.
According to the U.S Time (2006)
The late educator and author, John Holt adds, regarding parental right, "It is your
right, and your proper business, as parents, to shelter your children and protect them from
adversity, at least as much as you can. If you think that school is bad, and then it is clear
what you should do, teach them at home.
Kristsonis, W.A (2002). William Kritsonis, PhD on SCHOOLING. Mansfield, OH: Book
Sen. Jim DeMint. (2009.). Washington, DC: Protecting Children by Empowering Parents
through the Parental Rights Amendment. Retrieved December1, 2009, from
Supreme Court of the United States. (1999). Parental rights. Washington, DC: Retrieved
December 1, 2009, from http://www.ed.gov/case/choice/index.html.
The Justice Foundation. (2005).Parental rights in education. Washington, DC: Retrieved
November 20, 2009, from http://www.gpo.gov/index.html
Walsh, J., Kemerer, F., &Maniotis, L. (2006). The Educator’s Guide to Texas School
Law. Austin, TX University of Texas Press.