This article lists common questions regarding parental rights in the Texas educational system.

These answers are general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice for your specific situation.  Always consult an attorney of your choosing for analysis and advice on legal issues specific to your family and child.

Can you refer me to an attorney?
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No.  We are not a legal referral service.  We are developing a network of cooperating attorneys who will provide an initial consultation at a reduced rate for visitors to our website.  However, at this time, we are not in a position to publish a list of the attorneys.

What are the potential consequences of opting out of STAAR/EOC examinations?
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Parents should be aware of the potential consequences of opting out.  These may include:

  • The scoring of a refused test as a zero;
  • Loss of test administration opportunities;
  • Denial of promotion in grades 5 and 8 (subject to review by Grade Placement Committee);
  • Inability to achieve District matrix benchmarks for certain programs;
  • If high school EOC examinations are not taken, TEA rules prohibit the awarding of a high school diploma.

Is it legal to Opt Out of STAAR/EOC exams?
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The answer to this question depends on what you mean by legal.  There are no criminal penalties associated with refusing to take the STAAR/EOC assessments.  If you choose to keep your child home during exam administration days and make up days, you should be aware of any laws related to truancy and make sure you are in compliance.

As to whether a court will recognize your right to opt out, or whether Ch. 26 of the Texas Education Code guarantees that right, the answer is unclear.  There is certainly a good faith argument that parents have both a statutory and constitutional right to remove their child from any instruction or school activity they find objectionable on a moral or religious basis, or that they deem to be a threat to their child’s physical or mental well-being.  However, at this point there are no legal decisions directly on point that could provide you with assurance that the school district will accept your request or that you would ultimately prevail if the issue were litigated.

 

What do I need to do to opt out?
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Since schools deny that there is an opt out right or procedure, you are pretty much free to use whatever procedure you wish.  The opt out provisions in the Texas Education Code do require a written notice to the school which should state your moral or religious objection to the STAAR examination.  We have form letters in the resources section of the site that you can use to give this notice.

Once you have delivered the notice, you must decide whether to send your child to school on STAAR test and make up dates.  Some schools take the position that even with notice from the parents that they are under an obligation to test the child.  We have received reports of deceit and trickery from schools in order to test children that have had parents refuse the STAAR exam.  You must decide whether you trust your school to honor your wishes or not.  You should also instruct your child that unless they hear it from you, you have not agreed to permit them to take the test and they should not open or in any way participate in any test presented to them.

What are the forms for?
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The forms are general usage, self-help forms which have been prepared by one of our cooperating attorneys.  Neither the TPERN nor the attorney preparing the form has knowledge of your particular circumstances or is in a position to advise you on whether you should use one of our forms.  If you feel the form would be useful or appropriate to your situation, you may use the form as you see fit.  You may wish to consult legal counsel of your own choosing if you have any concerns over the use of a form on this website.

Does my child need to take a standardized test?
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This is a question that only you, as the child’s parent can answer.  For certain pre-secondary grades, testing is one method of qualifying for promotion to the following grade.  However, there are alternative means for promotion that do not require completion of the state assessments of academic readiness.  For high school students, the current regulations of the Texas Education Agency require completion of five EOC (End of Course) examinations in order to receive a high school diploma from the state.  A parent who opts out of EOC examinations should be prepared for the school district to deny graduation.  However, other means to receiving a certification of college readiness exist, including post-secondary home-schooling, GED courses, and distance learning from a private high school.

The Texas Education Code requires the schools to test the children.  It does not provide any method to compel a student to take the examination.