Fox News| by Joshua Q. Nelson | August 26, 2023
DP News Summary Talking Points:
- Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) charges Parents Defending Education $18,290.96 to fulfill a public records request regarding the banning of parental opt-out policies for its gender and sexuality curriculum.
- Parents argue against MCPS’ policy, which prohibits opting children out of reading books with LGBTQ+ content.
- A federal court in Maryland recently ruled against parents’ efforts to opt out of LGBTQ+ content, leading to a contentious debate over religious beliefs and educational material.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is charging a parental rights group more than $18K to fulfill a public records request.
MCPS will charge Parents Defending Education $18,290.96 to obtain public records of correspondence about the district banning parental opt-out policies for its gender and sexuality curriculum, according to a letter released by the organization.
In response, Nicole Neily, founder and president of Parents Defending Education, stated: “In Montgomery County Public Schools, ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ are dirty words, but the graphic sex acts that parents object to in their children’s books is completely acceptable.”
Neily posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, the letter from MCPS stating that Maryland law allows a government unit to recover actual costs incurred to search and prepare records for inspection for any time beyond the first two hours. She called it “an outrageous attempt to discourage oversight.”
“We estimate that the fee to complete your request will be $18,290.96. This is based on 440 hours by a communications specialist in the Department of Communications at an hourly rate of $41.11 and three hours by an attorney in the Office of General Counsel at an hourly rate of $67.52,” the letter said, noting it will proceed with the request after payment.
MCPS did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Neily’s post came after a federal court in Maryland decided Thursday that parents can’t opt their kids out of reading books with LGBTQ content in MCPS.
In Tamer Mahmoud v. Monica B. McKnight, parents sought to reinstate an MCPS policy that would allow them to opt their children out of reading and discussing books with LGBTQ characters in elementary schools. The parents argued the content in these books was a form of indoctrination that violated their families’ religious beliefs.
The court disagreed. Judge Deborah L. Boardman, a Biden appointee, concluded that the parents’ “asserted due process right to direct their children’s upbringing by opting out of a public-school curriculum that conflicts with their religious views is not a fundamental right.”
The judge denied the parents’ request for a preliminary injunction that would allow them to opt their kids out when school begins on August 28.
The controversy arose last year when MCPS introduced more than 22 new books featuring LGBTQ characters into classrooms as part of a diversity initiative. Initially, the school district notified parents when these materials would be used in class and permitted them to opt their kids out from instruction involving these books, as they can with other portions of the curriculum.
But in March, the district changed its policy and announced that parents would no longer have that right. A group of religious families of diverse faiths sued, claiming the policy violated their First Amendment right to guide the religious instruction of their children.
The LGBTQ books added to the district’s curriculum are included in pre-K through eighth-grade classrooms and feature references to gay pride parades, gender transition and pronoun preference.
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Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.