Kemp unveils Parents’ Bill of Rights

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

ATLANTA – Legislation guaranteeing parents’ involvement in their children’s education was introduced into the General Assembly Wednesday on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp.

Dubbed the Parents’ Bill of Rights, the legislation will be steered through the state House and Senate through separate versions sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, and Rep. Josh Bonner, R-Fayetteville, two of Kemp’s floor leaders.

The bills would add transparency provisions to state law guaranteeing parents the right to access instructional material.

Principals or superintendents who receive a request for information from a parent would have three working days to provide it. If the principal or superintendent is unable to share the information within that timeframe, they must provide the parent a written description of the material and a timeline for its delivery, not to exceed 30 days.

“At a time when our nation is more divided than ever, we’re leading the fight to ensure parents do not have any barriers which prevent them from playing an active role in their child’s education,” Kemp said.

“Students do best when their parents have a seat at the table and their voices are heard and respected. … At its core, [the bill] is about transparency, access, and promoting an engaged partnership between the parent and educators to the ultimate benefit of the student.”

The right of parents to be involved in their children’s education become a hot political issue last fall when Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in a debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

The gaffe helped propel Republican Glenn Youngkin to victory over McAuliffe, who had previously served a term as governor and was favored to win in what has become a Democratic state in recent years.

Kemp is backing separate legislation prohibiting Georgia schools from teaching “critical race theory,” which emphasizes the existence of systemic racism in America.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.