News (USA)

“Shocking” school permission slip requires parental consent for a visit from a Black author

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: YouTube screenshot

A Florida school is in hot water for asking parents to sign permission slips for their children to listen to a reading from a Black author.

The request from Coral Way, part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, was an attempt for the school to comply with Florida’s 2021 Parents’ Bill of Rights, which requires schools to have policies that “promote parental involvement in the public school system” and gives parents the power to object to classroom content based on beliefs of “morality, sex, and religion or the belief that such materials are harmful.”

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.

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 the Parents’ Bill of Rights.   

Parent Chuck Walter posted a photo of the permission slip he received for his first grader, which states in the activity description: “Students will participate & listen to a book written by an African American.”

“I had to give permission for this or else my child would not participate???” Walter wrote.

Walter, who also has a fourth grader, told NBC News it was “shocking” to receive the permission slip and that he had never before been asked to sign one for a guest speaker to visit either of his kids’ classes.

A district spokesperson acknowledged in a statement that “the description of the event may have caused confusion” and said they’re “working with our schools to reemphasize the importance of clarity for parents in describing activities/events that would require parental permission.”

“However,” the statement continued, “in compliance with State Law, permission slips were sent home because guest speakers would participate during a school-authorized education-related activity.”

State education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. also released a statement claiming that “Florida does not require a permission slip to teach African American history or to celebrate Black History Month. Any school that does this is completely in the wrong.”

Earlier this month, another Miami-Dade school, iPrep Academy, became entangled in a similar controversy by requiring parents to sign permission slips for students to participate in Black History Month events.

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.”

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.”

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) – as well as the state’s GOP lawmakers – have been on a crusade to ban “woke” instruction from public education. The state’s Stop WOKE Act bans “critical race theory” in Florida Schools and has had a devastating impact on teachers’ ability to discuss Black history. The law bans any attempt to “indoctrinate or persuade” students in principles that are not “consistent with specified principles of individual freedom” and also bans any instruction that says that people are responsible for past actions due to their “race, sex, or national origin.”

Similarly, the Don’t Say Gay law (officially known as the Parental Rights in Education Act) bans classroom discussion of gender and sexual identity for K-12 students.

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