Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote a letter to the Fort Worth Independent School District superintendent and board president, addressing parent complaints that they have been denied access to public records regarding FWISD’s human sexuality curriculum.

According to Paxton, school districts “must grant parents access to all written records concerning their child, as well as full information regarding the child’s school activities.” Paxton relied upon the following legal authority in demanding that the district turn over the curriculum:

  • Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. KP-100 (June 28, 2016), issued exactly two years earlier, discussing whether the FWISD’s transgender guidelines violated Texas Education Code, chapter 26, and whether the superintendent had authority to adopt the guidelines without a vote by the board of trustees or public comment. According to Paxton, the guidelines improperly limited parents’ access to information regarding their child’s gender identity and encouraged children to withhold information from their parents.
  • The United States Constitution, which protects the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
  • Texas Education Code § 26.004, which provides that a “parent is entitled to access to all written records of a school district concerning the parent’s child.”
  • Texas Education Code § 26.008, which states that a “parent is entitled to full information regarding the school activities of a parent’s child” except in instances of suspected parental abuse or neglect.
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(1)(A), which grants parents “the right to inspect and review the education records of their children.”
  • Texas Education Code § 28.004(j), stating: “A school district shall make all curriculum materials used in the district’s human sexuality instruction available for reasonable public inspection.”

In closing, Paxton requested that the District deliver a complete copy of the human sexuality curriculum to the Office of the Attorney General and grant parents and the public full access to it or “risk legal liability” under the Texas Public Information Act which provides a criminal penalty for refusing to provide access to public records. Paxton gave the district ten days to comply.

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