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Florida lays out process for parents to handle disputes with school under 'parental rights' law

The Florida Department of Education published a proposal for how to carry out the complaint process under the controversial "Parental Rights in Education" law.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Parents now have a framework for how to resolve a complaint against their child’s school district under the state’s controversial new "Parental Rights in Education" law.

The Florida Department of Education on Monday published the proposed rule outlining an alternative to taking legal action if a parent feels their district is violating the law.

The law, critically dubbed "Don’t Say Gay," prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade or in any grade if deemed not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” under yet-to-be-defined state standards.

Under the law, parents have the right to pursue legal options if they believe a school district is in violation. Alternatively, parents can opt to resolve a dispute through a hearing before a special magistrate.

The proposed rule stipulates a special magistrate could only be used once a parent proves they sought to resolve the dispute with the district first. Read the full proposal here.

Each district must adopt procedures for how a parent or guardian can work to find a resolution before requesting a special magistrate.

The proposal lays out which types of disputes can be considered by a special magistrate. Parents would have to fill out forms describing in detail the dispute with the district.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., according to the proposal, would be responsible for reviewing every request.

Previously the president of Florida's largest union, the Florida Education Association, Andrew Spar, has argued there needs to be more clarity on the law before legal processes can be decided.

While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has long supported the legislation, critics have continually expressed concern over its vague language and fear it will marginalize LGBTQ+ students and staff.

The proposed rule is scheduled for consideration before the State Board of Education on Aug. 17.

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