School parental involvement, transparency measures proposed

A bill meant to strengthen state law regarding parental involvement in public schools was considered Feb. 5 by the Education Committee.

Sen. Dave Murman
Sen. Dave Murman

LB1399, introduced by Glenvil Sen. Dave Murman, would require all Nebraska public school districts to create and implement a policy by July 1, 2025, that outlines the rights of parents, guardians and education decisionmakers to access learning materials, library content and staff training materials, among other items. The policy also must outline how the district will involve parents and ensure transparency.

After introducing a similar measure last year, Murman said he worked with school board members across the state over the interim to draft a “simpler and cleaner bill.” LB1399 would not pose a problem for the many school districts that already have transparency and parental involvement policies in place, he said.

“Some schools absolutely do have great transparency policies, however, I want to make sure every school in Nebraska has great transparency policies,” Murman said.

Under LB1399, districts must provide parents, guardians and education decisionmakers access to a variety of curriculum, digital, library and training materials. The district would be required to grant access within 10 business days after receiving a request.

District policies also would be required to outline procedures for:
• reviewing and approving curriculum, training and learning materials, school presentations and activities;
• accommodating requests by parents, guardians or education decisionmakers to attend and monitor courses, assemblies, counseling sessions and other instructional activities;
• accommodating requests to excuse a student from testing, classroom instruction, learning materials, activities, guest speakers, events or other school experiences;
• notifying parents, guardians or education decisionmakers 10 days in advance of administration of a student survey, including an explanation of the purpose and any data usage; and
• allowing parents, guardians or education decisionmakers to view student surveys, review their students’ responses and opt the student out of any survey.

Before approving a policy, input from parents, guardians and education decisionmakers would be considered and a public hearing would be held.

In addition, LB1399 would require all public school districts to publish a downloadable list of library books available to students on its website by Aug. 1, 2026. School districts using digital library checkout software would be required to email a notification to a parent, guardian or educational decisionmaker when their student checks out a library book. The email service would be available to those who choose to opt in and would provide information such as the book’s title, author and due date.

Among other provisions, the bill also would require districts to allow a parent, guardian or education decisionmaker to request that a five-minute portion of any library book or other material owned by the school district be read aloud at one school board meeting, beginning with the 2026-27 school year.

If a school district fails to follow the bill’s provisions, the commissioner of education would notify the district and allow a reasonable amount of time for them to comply. If the commissioner found that the district still was not in compliance after the given time elapsed, they could take necessary remedial action, including considering noncompliance as a violation of the rules and regulations for school accreditation.

Testifying in support of the measure was Allie French, speaking on behalf of Nebraskans Against Government Overreach. LB1399 would increase transparency, encourage open communication between schools and parents and clarify who parents should contact in their district to discuss concerns, she said.

“LB1399 provides important measures of parental consent and oversight of their student’s education, as well as a proper chain of command before going to the commissioner,” French said.

Kyle McGowan, speaking on behalf of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, the Nebraska State Education Association and four other education organizations, testified in opposition to the measure.

McGowan did not object to provisions requiring a complete listing of books in school libraries and parental notification of student check outs, but said it would be “unfair” for the state to require unpaid, elected school board members to listen to five-minute book readings for unlimited amounts of time at board meetings.

“Strong parental involvement is important to the success of a child,” he said. “However, we think that LB1399 is an overreach [into] a school board’s local control.”

Also opposing the measure was Jeremy Shuey, a Plattsmouth Community Schools Board of Education member, testifying on behalf of the Nebraska Association of School Boards. Requiring that staff training materials be made available could be challenging, he said, because some training materials come from third-party entities and are copyright or trademark protected.

Jane Seu also opposed the measure, speaking on behalf of ACLU Nebraska. She said allowing the sharing of students’ answers to surveys without their consent is an invasion of privacy. In addition, she said, that provision of the bill could put LGBTQ students in danger if their survey answers reflect their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“For many LGBTQ youth who are not supported at home, school may be the only place they can be themselves,” Seu said.

The committee took no immediate action on LB1399.



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