Prince William School Board considering parental consent for school-wide book readings

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The Prince William County School Board is considering a proposal that would require school administrators to notify parents ahead of any school-wide book readings or assemblies.

Potomac Board Member Justin Wilk, who’s proposing the resolution along with Gainesville Member Jen Wall, told InsideNoVa the policy change would simply mandate what many school principals are already doing.

He also said the proposal was not in response to a Marshall Elementary librarian’s reading of “Prince & Knight” during morning announcements in June. Several Republican politicians, including Republican county supervisor and 7th Congressional District nominee Yesli Vega, criticized the fact that the book featured a gay love story.

Wall could not be reached for comment by InsideNoVa. But Wilk also said that the resolution would ensure that parents and guardians have the ability to pull their children out of any school-wide activities they objected to. He said that a teacher asked about a Jewish family keeping their child out of singing a Christmas song, and that such a choice would be permitted as it always had been.

“The choice is there. If you don’t want your child to attend an assembly, you have a right to … ask the principal to opt them out and there’d be some type of accommodation. So again, this is already being done,” Wilk said.

Under the proposed policy change, schools would have to give families notice at least three days ahead of time.

“The changes will require schools to notify all parents and guardians, by email, at least three days in advance of any school-wide presentation, including guest presentations, assemblies, or any such instances in which any publication or other material will be read, shared, performed, or broadcast to all students by any person,” according to a staff report of the proposal.

Wilk said that he and Wall consulted with school system staff leadership to ensure that the policy wouldn’t be too cumbersome for school administrators. The resolution has recommendations from system staff and counsel. It’s likely to be voted on at the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.

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