At a Rockingham County School Board meeting Monday, it was posited during public comment that parents have the right to pick and choose from the Virginia Department of Education standards what their child is taught. But that is simply not what the law states, Superintendent Oskar Scheikl said.
The law states that parents can direct the education of their child, but the Supreme Court of Virginia has upheld that the Virginia code applies to a parent's right to seek private education for their child. It does not mean that parents have the right to dictate curriculum, Scheikl said.
A number of Rockingham County School Board candidates are running for seats under the platform that parents have a right to say what their children are taught in schools. And while Rockingham County has parent advisory committees to facilitate dialogue, there are only three topics that a parent is legally allowed to opt their child out of -- any discussion of HIV/AIDS, sex education and animal dissection.
"A parent saying, 'My child won't be learning about this' is simply not how the curriculum works," Scheikl said. "The VDOE is tasked with coming up with the curriculum."
But Virginia code does state that school divisions cannot impede a parent's right to home-school, send their child to private school or be exempt from public education for religious reasons.
Michael Richards, superintendent of Harrisonburg City Public Schools, was not available this week to discuss parents and their involvement in what is taught in schools, but he did say: "We’re one of the only divisions with an office focused on family engagement and with multilingual home liaisons whose purpose is to keep families connected to school, so we have a lot to say about the importance of partnering with families."