Call Your Senator Tonight!
Last week the Senate Education Committee voted HB 1231, the parental notification bill for objectionable material, as Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) which would kill it.
The bill as introduced is the same as HB 332 from last year that passed both the House and Senate, but vetoed by the governor. HB 1231 seeks to address a gap in RSA 186:11 IX-c by requiring parents be given two weeks advanced notice and access to classroom materials for subjects pertaining to human sexuality. While this statute can be used for any subject, it does not address the loop hole that parents must first be aware of what material is being used and when. The bill would allow parents to make informed decisions regarding their children’s education. At the House Education Committee’s public hearing, the prime sponsor introduced a friendly amendment to address the concerns brought up with SB 369 recently with respect to drug and alcohol awareness instruction.
The House and Senate committees heard from many parents in 2015 and 2016 about situations in NH when controversial material was introduced to their children without their prior knowledge. In spring 2014 the Manchester elementary students were shown a video about molestation without parental notification. Also in 2014 Gilford High School parents were not given advanced notice about a controversial novel in the 9th grade English class. Note that these instances occurred well after the changes to RSA 186:11, IX-c were in place, but schools deliberately took advantage of the fact that there was no provision in statute regarding notification. Parents can’t opt out of objectionable material if they are never notified — this is why HB 1231 is so important.
Similarly, HB 1232, a bill that would inform parents when non-academic government or private organizations are scheduled to visit their children’s schools, was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by the Senate Education Committee last week. This bill would require districts to create a policy informing parents with at least 10 days advance notice and the purpose of the visit. It also provides an opt-out for parents who don’t wish their children to be part of the visit. This supports parental rights and improves privacy protections.
The full senate will vote on HB 1231 and HB 1232 tomorrow, Thursday, April 21 at 10:00am. We want to overturn the committee recommendations and pass both bills!
Contact the senate tonight, urging them to vote NAY on the ITL (to overturn the committee recommendation) and vote both bills as Ought to Pass. Brief, polite calls are most effective, but emails are helpful. Particularly mention if you are a constituent.
UPDATE 4/21/16: The NH senate attempted to override the committee’s ITL recommendation for HB 1231 today, but it failed in a 12 to 12 roll call vote. The senate than motioned to Table the bill, effectively shelving it, on a voice vote. HB 1232’s committee recommendation was supported in a voice vote. Both bills fall short. Thank you for your efforts for parents’ rights.
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page, or you can email all of them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Woodburn — District 1, Dalton
Jeanie Forrester — District 2, Meredith
Jeb Bradley — District 3, Wolfeboro
David Watters — District 4, Dover
David Pierce — District 5, Lebanon
Sam Cataldo — District 6, Farmington
Andrew Hosmer — District 7, Laconia
Gerald Little — District 8, Weare
Andy Sanborn — District 9, Bedford
Molly Kelly — District 10, Keene
Gary Daniels — District 11, Milford
Kevin Avard — District 12, Nashua
Bette Lasky — District 13, Nashua
Sharon Carson — District 14, Londonderry
Dan Feltes — District 15, Concord
David Boutin — District 16, Hooksett/Manchester
John Reagan — District 17, Deerfield
Donna Soucy — District 18, Manchester
Regina Birdsell — District 19, Hampstead/Windham/Derry
Lou D’Allesandro — District 20, Manchester
Martha Fuller Clark — District 21, Portsmouth
Chuck Morse — District 22, Salem
Russell Prescott — District 23, Kingston
Nancy Stiles — District 24, Hampton