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School under fire for requiring parents to sign permission slips for Black History Month events

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A school in Miami-Dade County, Florida, is requiring parents to sign permission slips for students to participate in Black History Month events.

As local ABC affiliate WPLG reports, parents of students at iPrep Academy in Miami have been asked to sign a form giving their consent for their children to participate in “class and school wide presentations showcasing the achievements and recognizing the rich and diverse traditions, histories, and innumerable contributions of the Black communities,” during Black History Month.

Steve Gallon, a member of the Miami-Dade School Board, told WPLG that the policy is “an extension of a new state board rule” under Florida’s 2021 Parents’ Bill of Rights.   

In November, the Miami-Dade School Board adopted new rules requiring schools to fully inform parents of any school-sponsored events, activities, or supplemental programs, and to obtain signed permission forms from parents in order for students to participate.

“We have to follow the law,” Gallon said. “We have to implement the rules that are adopted by the State Board of Education.”

But, he continued, “We have to square some obligations we have to academic freedom,” adding that he is concerned about the unintended consequences the policy might have on students whose parents don’t allow them to attend such events and activities.

Florida International University Professor Marvin Dunn seems to share Gallon’s concerns. “When parents become involved in making that decision, keeping some kids out, some kids in, you have unequal learning,” Dunn said.

He pointed to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration’s relentless efforts to reshape public education in the state via laws like the Parental Rights in Education Act and the Stop W.O.K.E. Act.

“The intent of the DeSantis attack on education is to make schools more cautious, to make teachers more cautious about what they teach, and it’s working,” Dunn said.

“Something feels very off here,” iPrep Academy parent Jill Peeling said. “And the fact that the school needs to cover themselves against the state feels even worse.”

In a statement to Business Insider, the Florida Department of Education described the idea that Florida students needed parental consent to study Black history a “media driven lie.”

“Any insinuation that students need permission to study African American history is absolutely false,” the statement read.

According to The Daily Beast, Florida Department of Education Press Secretary Nathalia Medina pointed to a statement on Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ social studies webpage: “Miami-Dade County Public Schools fully supports the teaching of African American history, which is required by the State of Florida, throughout the school year. Our schools do not need permission slips to teach African American history.”

According to WPLG, Miami-Dade County Public Schools stressed that the permission slips have to do with “outside presenters coming into campus,” not with Black History Month. Gallon said that he planned to raise the issue at Wednesday’s committee hearing.

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