Editor, Times-Union:

As the 2022 legislative session nears the halfway point, we believe it’s imperative to understand a few of the bills that we have been watching closely. Early on, it was clearly indicated that the GOP establishment was playing politics with Hoosier children and parents.   

Senate Bill 17, filed back in November, became an establishment political pawn before session even kicked off. By incorporating this bill into SB167 and HB1134, the GOP establishment had hoped to garner the parental army over obscenity to force through these much weaker pieces of legislation. Parents and conservative organizations across the Hoosier state desperately needed and wanted HB1040, which provides protections for multiple issues which parents are battling their local school districts over. In typical GOP establishment fashion, HB1040 was not to prevail and was never given a committee hearing. In addition, HB1231 authored by Rep. Jacob mirrored much of HB1040; however, it, also, was not given a hearing. Instead, the Indiana GOP firmly planted its footing on HB1134 which is not only a much weaker bill, but also contains major hidden obstacles for parents.  

HB1134 includes curriculum advisory committees which are already being stacked against parents at the local level.  Yet, GOP leadership is determined to incorporate them into this piece of legislation.  

Also, overlooked by many is the complaint and appeals process by which parents can traverse should they choose; however, the IDOE is the final determining factor on whether there is a violation. Isn’t that like putting the fox in charge of guarding the hen house? We know the IDOE, which is essentially controlled by the governor, is NOT going to side with parents and will protect teachers first and foremost. It’s imperative to note that the IDOE is purposefully instructing our schools on radial progressive social emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching (CRT).  

After a nearly 3-month complaint and appeals process, parents can file a civil lawsuit against their school; however, HB1134 now includes language that would fine parents up to $10,000 by the court should a judge deem their civil lawsuit to be frivolous. This seems absurd especially since the civil penalties for schools are not to exceed $1,000. This is nothing more than an intimidation tactic to prevent parents from considering taking such action.  

Lastly, the language of HB1134 now includes protecting against the distribution to parents of third-party material which is considered copyrighted. We know schools are already using this as an excuse to not share this material with parents, which we believe will only get worse with the passage of HB1134.  

One thing is clear, HB1134 is NOT the transparency bill our legislators have stated and it is for these reasons that Purple for Parents Indiana opposes HB1134.

In closing, we are thankful to Representative Curt Nisly for voting NO on HB1134 and looking out for the REAL protections of Hoosier parents and students.

Rhonda Miller

President, Purple for Parents Indiana

Nappanee, via email