Some CT superintendents continue to violate parents’ civil rights and their own Code of Responsibility

Parents of public school students in a number of Connecticut school districts continue to report that there are superintendents and principals who are not only misleading parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to refuse to have their child participate in the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests and/or the NEW SAT, but are actually telling parents that it is “illegal” for them to opt their child or children out of these tests.

Such a statement is a lie, a violation of the parent’s civil rights and violates the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility that school administrators MUST follow in order to maintain their state certification.

ONCE AGAIN – There is NO federal or state law, regulation or legal policy that prevents a parent from refusing (opting their child out) of Connecticut’s Common Core SBAC tests or the recently “mandated” NEW SAT.

If Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman, Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell or any public school superintendent or principal has a legal opinion that they believe gives them the authority to override constitutionally guaranteed parental rights then they need to immediately make such a document public so that those of us who are parents can take appropriate legal action to protect Connecticut’s parents and children.

If they do not have a legal opinion that can withstand a challenge then superintendents need to stop implementing the Malloy administration’s strategy of abuse and treat their students and parents with respect.

Every Connecticut school administrator is well aware, or should be well aware, that in January 2013 Governor Dannel Malloy’s first Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, provided local school officials with a directive explaining how to mislead parents about the Common Core testing and how to make it as difficult as possible for parents to opt their child out of the testing frenzy.

That same memo, however, explained that if parents insisted that their children not take the test, the state policy was to recognize that decision.

Although the law has not changed and the State Board of Education has not rescinded the memo, the Malloy administration conveniently removed the policy document from the Department of Education’s website.

The State Department of  Education Memo reads;

Over the years, the CSDE has developed a graduated approach in response to parents who want their child(ren) removed from statewide testing. The overall goal is to test as many students as we can in adherence to state and federal law.

The Memo then lays out the protocol for handling opt-out requests:

If:  Parent(s) contact their public school district to request/inform the district that they want their child (ren) removed from statewide testing

Then:  The school or district administrator explains to the parent that the district has no degrees of freedom in the matter.  Federal and state law requires that public school students are to be tested.

If:   Parent calls the state to ask if they can opt-out of testing.

Then:  State informs parent that there is no opt-out language in the law.  As long as the student is enrolled in a Connecticut public school, the district is required to test them on some form of the statewide exam.  The state sends a copy of the statutory references to the parent.

If:  Parent informs the district that, regardless of the law, the district is not to test the student.

Then:  District is advised to get this statement of intent from the parent in writing so that the district can provide a written response.  The CSDE’s legal office has provided a model letter (attached), which districts may adapt, citing all pertinent laws and regulations and asking the parent to reconsider as it is a violation of the law not to comply.

If:  Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.

Then:  In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing), which negatively impacts the participation rate for the district.  The state, to date, has not done any follow-up on these cases.  

Note that even this memo states that the student is to be marked absent.

The following are links to copies of the Malloy administration’s memo – http://issuu.com/jonpelto/docs/connecticut-department-of-education and https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5PDZpOuzPFVOHpzcjV6VGJaU0U/view?usp=sharing and https://www.scribd.com/doc/258918003/Connecticut-Department-of-Education-Memo-on-Optng-Out-of-Common-Core-SBAC-Testing-2013

If these links don’t work, send a request to [email protected] and a pdf of the memo will be sent back to you.

ALSO NOTE: The Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators

In addition, parents who are facing harassment from school superintendents or principals should take special note of The Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators that administrators must follow in order to hold the required state certification to work in a Connecticut public school.

The Code of Professional Responsibility is laid out in Section 10-145d-400b of Connecticut’s State Regulations and requires;

 “The professional school administrator, in full recognition of obligations to the student, shall: (1) Make the well-being of students the fundamental value in all decision making and actions; (2) Recognize, respect and uphold the dignity and worth of students as individuals and deal justly and considerately with students;…”

In addition, the school administrators’ code for the responsibility to the student’s family states that,

“The professional school administrator, in full recognition of the responsibility to the student’s family, shall: (1) Respect the dignity of each family, its culture, customs and beliefs; (2) Promote and maintain appropriate, ongoing and timely written and oral communications with the family; (3) Respond in a timely fashion to families’ concerns; (4) Consider the family’s perspective on issues involving its children; (5) Encourage participation of the family in the educational process; and (6) Foster open communication among the family, staff and administrators.”

The language of the state regulation is clear, concise and specific!  Superintendents and other certified school administrators ARE PROHIBITED FROM engaging in behavior and actions that violate their sworn duties to perform their jobs in an ethical and responsible fashion.

The time is now for Superintends and School Administrators to do their job appropriately and respect a parent’s decision to opt their child or children out of the SBAC and NEW SAT tests.