Bullard files bills to protect rights of public school and college students
Mike Seals - January 21, 2021 10:20 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – As a teacher with 15 years of experience in public school classrooms, Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, knows the impact teachers can have on students. Having seen the good and bad, he has filed Senate Bill 588 creating the “Students’ Bill of Rights” to protect public school students from bias and prejudice in the classroom as well as Senate Bill 614 to extend similar protections to students attending Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities.
“Our job as teachers is to help students learn various subjects, like math and reading, that will help them become independent, productive members of society. However, some teachers overstep their boundaries trying to indoctrinate students with socialism, hatred of America and even persuade them away from their faith,” Bullard said. “This bill clarifies that a student does not relinquish their constitutional rights at the school door. Teachers need to realize there are boundaries and their responsibility is to teach only those subjects for which they were hired, and everything else needs to be left up to parents and guardians.”
Under SB 588, students in Oklahoma public schools and public charter schools have the right to:
- A safe learning environment including freedom from bullying and threatening behavior;
- An unbiased education that does not endorse, favor or promote socialism, communism, Marxism or anti-American bias;
- An unbiased learning environment including classrooms and school-sponsored or sanctioned events free from the display of flags or propaganda of any organization or symbol of socialism, communism, Marxism or anti-American sentiment;
- Privacy protections including clothing and bodily searches;
- Public and free expression of religion, speech and peaceful assembly such as participating or leading voluntary prayers, observing moments of silence, reading the Bible or having an unbiased education that does not endorse, favor, demean or intentionally undermine any particular religion, nonreligious faith or religious perspective;
- An appropriate relationship with teachers and school employees free from criminal actions; and
- Freedom from the use of vulgar language directed toward other individuals by students, teachers, coaches or other district employees.
The Students’ Bill of Rights would be included in school handbooks. School boards and the governing boards of public charter schools would create a due process plan for students, parents or legal guardians and teachers to report violations of the Act. Confirmed violations by school employees would be reported to the State Department of Education, who would be authorized to report any school found not in compliance as deficient on the accreditation report. The bill would also allow the state Board to impose a State Aid penalty for districts that did not comply with the Act or have submitted two or more confirmed violations that have not been addressed.
SB 614 would provide students attending any institution within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education the right to public and free expression of religion, speech and peaceful assembly including the right to participate in religious student associations free from discrimination and engage in expressive activity on campus. It would also extend the same rights as the Students’ Bill of Rights to college students regarding their right to an unbiased education. Each college and university would be required to establish a Safe Campus Committee, consisting of full-time students and faculty, administration and community representatives, to review reported violations.
“Any teacher, administrator or professor who is willing to attempt to steal or impede on the sacred rights of Oklahoma’s students or force their personal beliefs on them does not deserve the honor of being called a teacher or educator,” Bullard said. “We must protect Oklahoma’s students throughout their public education.”