SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A bill that would have allowed parents to sue teachers is getting scaled down after it drew sharp criticism from educators.
Originally, SB 157 would have given parents the right to sue over classroom curriculum. But senator John Johnson who sponsors the bill took this part out, after receiving feedback from constituents.
“There was never any intent to put frivolous lawsuits on teachers that are just trying to do their jobs,” says Senator Johnson. He says the purpose of the bill is to give parents more power in how their children are being educated. This means parents may opt their children out of any subject matter, curriculum or activities they deem objectionable. Another key element in the bill is to emphasize state sovereignty in public education. “What we really wanted to do was reinsert the idea that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children,” says Johnson.
But despite the changes in the bill, Heidi Matthews, the president of the Utah Education Association says this bill creates a rift between parents and teachers, and would impact educators negatively. “The message that it’s sending to our educators that are already exhausted, the message of distrust,” says Matthews, “All we want is the support so we can be the best that we can be for each and every one of our students and this bill does not move that forward.”
Senator Johnson says the bill is still in progress and he is meeting with educators to learn more about their needs. “We want to talk to groups all across the state, voice concerns of different people and try to respond to those,” he says.