Parents in a Colorado school district are accusing teachers of breaking state and federal laws by allegedly asking kids about their preferred pronouns in secret surveys.
Denice Crawford, a mom of three kids in the district, said her son was subject to one such survey this past week, and is confused since laws should require the district to obtain written consent from her before asking for sensitive information.
The claims stem from an email sent to teachers in Jefferson County this past week – an area along the Front Range of the Rockies on the western edge of Denver. The region includes cities like Lakewood and Arvada, and is largely suburban.
In the letter, first obtained by CBS News, officials from the county’s presiding teacher’s union seemed to suggest instructors are surveying students about their preferred pronouns, and then hiding evidence afterwards.
Speaking to CBS, Crawford – after finding out teachers were being told ‘if you do a questionnaire, please make it a paper and pencil activity’, and warned that ‘any digital records… may be requested under federal law’ – said she feels betrayed.
‘Deceived, lied to, taken advantage of,’ she recalled of the email sent by members of Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) to all staffers before the start of the school year.
‘I don’t feel I can trust the teachers,’ she said. ‘This is not political. It’s just they’re breaking the law.’
The letter seemed to substantiate some of the Jefferson mom’s claims, such as passages in which warned that if surveying students, teachers should be sure not to leave behind a paper trail to potentially be perused later.
It also showed how officials such as JCEA president Brooke Williams – who penned and defended the letter – were aware that ‘state and federal law prohibits ‘making the collection of [such information] mandatory.’
Instructors were then told: ‘If you do a questionnaire, please make it a paper and pencil activity.
‘Any digital record are more permanent and may be requested under FERPA,’ it explained.
FERPA, or the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is a federal law passed in 1974 that protects the privacy of student’s education records.
Under the guidance, parents have the right to inspect and review every aspect of their student’s school education records – preferred pronouns included.