Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Norfolk School Committee's response to DESE's legal opinion on parentalopt out

​Though this is dated February 11, I just got this today. I have posted the original here.
Dear Mr. Lee:
On January 14, 2014 the Norfolk School Committee voted to allow parents to Opt-Out of the PARCC “Field Test” that is being administered this spring on a trial basis. We believe that since this is in addition to the MCAS that the children are required to take and only certain students of the 4th Grade will be forced to take this test, the parents of these selected students should have the right to decide whether their children are to participate in this trial.
Our Superintendent shared with us your response to our vote and it is your opinion that we are not allowed to provide an Opt-Out for parents based on your siting of Massachusetts Law and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s ruling on MCAS. You, through your legal counsel, sited MGL Chapter 69, §1l asserting that this test is “to assess individual students, ‘comprehensive diagnostic assessment of individual students shall be conducted in the fourth, eighth and tenth grades. (Emphasis added by your legal counsel)
We respectively disagree with your assertion since this test is not providing “comprehensive diagnostic assessment of individual students” and that no information regarding the results are being shared with the parents, teachers, or individual districts. 
We further assert that this is an issue of parental rights as to whether the Massachusetts Department of Education has the right to mandate testing that will result in no quantitative data reporting. We also assert that it is the right of the Norfolk School Committee to provide our citizens with the right to Opt-Out of this program.
We would like to point out that certain Districts are being allowed to Opt-Out entirely. This is not our request, we are only asking that parents have the right to choose what is best for their children. 
The Norfolk School Committee wishes this letter to go on record as our Strong Objection to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s decision that a locally elected School Committee does not have the legal right to allow the parents of the affected children the ability to Opt-Out of the PARCC pilot program. 
Shawn Dooley
Chairman, State Representative
9th Norfolk 
Thomas Doyle Vice-Chairman 
Kelly Peterson Budget Chairman 
Mark Flaherty Policy Chairman

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