Publisher's Note: Parents have a right to know about their kids in school


One would think parental access to their own children’s school records would be a non-controversial issue.

Unfortunately, parents across Washington have expressed frustration that those records were incomplete, not provided or not easily accessible. That might be why almost 450,000 Washingtonians signed Initiative 2081, an initiative to the Legislature that provides parents and guardians of public school children the right to review instructional materials, inspect records, receive notifications and opt out of certain school activities.

Initiative 2081 was passed by the Washington state House of Representatives, 85-15, and passed the Washington state Senate, 49-0. It was a strongly bipartisan vote.

Chairperson of the House Education Committee Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, a Democrat from the 37th District, stated in her March 2024 floor speech that Initiative 2081 “simply codifies all of these existing laws in one place, so it doesn’t really do much to change the underlying laws.”

Our local state Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, stated in his March 2024 floor speech that the initiative may or may not merely codify existing law, but regardless it will help “strengthen the bonds a student has with their family” and create better “pathways of communication.” He highlighted that some conversations between a parent and child are uncomfortable, but it is “in those uncomfortable moments that trust is built. It's in those moments that those relationships are strengthened.”

Despite the overwhelming bipartisan support, on May 23, the ACLU of Washington, Legal Voice and QLaw filed a lawsuit to prevent the initiative from taking effect because the initiative contradicts existing federal and state laws. Last week, King County Superior Court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order, which would have prevented the initiative from taking effect on June 6 as scheduled by the Legislature. On June 21, the court will consider a preliminary injunction.

Following the court's decision to deny the injunction, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Superintendent Chris Reykdal issued a statement that he will not enforce the initiative, a law passed by the Legislature. In the release, Reykdal stated, “It is the student’s decision when and if their gender identity is shared, and with whom.”

Why is Reykdal unilaterally deciding not to enforce a law passed by the Legislature? Is he above the law and not accountable to the people of Washington? Reykdal's actions smack of an overreach of power and a blatant disregard for the democratic process. If he can choose which laws to enforce, where does it end?

I agree that children should be protected from abuse, assault and violence in and out of the home. If there is evidence of abuse in the home, then there might be good cause to protect the child by withholding disclosure. There are laws for those situations.

However, the vast majority of parents love their children and want to protect their children. I don’t know a lot of people who agreed with their parents growing up. I also don’t know a lot of people who didn’t argue with their parents about personal relationships and dating. Reykdal’s unilateral decision takes that all away from the good parents who want to work on their family relationships and better understand their children.

Reykdal’s refusal to enforce Initiative 2081 is not just a slap in the face to the Legislature, but to every parent in Washington who believes in transparency and accountability in education. His stance undermines the fundamental role of parents in their children's lives, essentially saying he knows better than the collective will of the people and their elected representatives.

I agree with Abbarno’s statements that we need to give opportunities to build stronger families through communication, especially uncomfortable conversations. We should not build more obstacles between parents and students and parents and the education system. We need more bridges.

I also agree, in part, with Santos’ statement that much of Initiative 2018 codified existing law. However, I see greater importance in this codification. I-2081 is the wakeup call for parents that they need to play a greater role in their children’s life and their children’s education.

Too many have relied on public education to raise their children; now they are unhappy with the result.

In the coming months, voters will have an opportunity to voice their opinion on this issue and many others. After all, our state constitution does say all “political power is inherent in the people.” Don’t let one politician unilaterally define your relationship with your student or school. Let your voice be heard.


Chad Taylor is owner and publisher of The Chronicle. He can be reached at