Parents Charge Education Officials with Bullying, Cover-ups over Refusal of Common Core Tests

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Common-Core-protest-ap-640x480As parents of thousands of students across the nation are refusing the standardized tests aligned with the Common Core standards, state education officials are digging in their heels and attempting to use authority and, in some cases, intimidation to keep test participation rates up and parents in line.

Grass­roots groups of par­ent activists who have been refus­ing the Com­mon Core-aligned tests for their chil­dren have cit­ed the due process clause of the 14th Amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion – upheld numer­ous times by the U.S. Supreme Court – with the under­stand­ing that chil­dren belong to their par­ents, not the state.

In South Car­oli­na, a memo for­ward­ed to Bre­it­bart News that state Super­in­ten­dent Mol­ly Spear­man sent to dis­trict super­in­ten­dents regard­ing “Test­ing Require­ments for All Stu­dents,” stated:

There is no statu­to­ry pro­vi­sion for par­ents to opt their chil­dren out of test­ing. The State, dis­tricts, and schools are required by state and fed­er­al law to admin­is­ter assess­ments to all pub­lic school stu­dents. Please ensure that your dis­trict and school lead­ers are con­sis­tent­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing that the schools’ oblig­a­tion is to admin­is­ter tests to all stu­dents. Because of that oblig­a­tion, it would not be appro­pri­ate to pro­vide alter­na­tive activ­i­ties for stu­dents in lieu of testing.

Par­ents are required to make chil­dren of the appro­pri­ate age attend school. S.C. Code … 59–65-20,” the memo con­tin­ued. “There­fore, it is not appro­pri­ate to sug­gest that par­ents ‘opt out’ by keep­ing their stu­dents at home on test­ing days.”

The sec­tion of the law referred to in the memo, the “Penal­ty for fail­ure to enroll or cause child to attend school” sec­tion, specif­i­cal­ly states:

Any par­ent or guardian who neglects to enroll his child or ward or refus­es to make such child or ward attend school shall, upon con­vic­tion, be fined not more than fifty dol­lars or be impris­oned not more than thir­ty days; each day’s absence shall con­sti­tute a sep­a­rate offense; pro­vid­ed, the court may in its dis­cre­tion sus­pend the sen­tence of any­one con­vict­ed of the pro­vi­sions of this article.

At a local press con­fer­ence, Tam­ra Hood, a mem­ber of South Car­oli­na Par­ents Involved in Edu­ca­tion (SCPIE) who attend­ed the April 16th meet­ing of the South Car­oli­na Asso­ci­a­tion of School Admin­is­tra­tors, said that, dur­ing the meet­ing, the State Edu­ca­tion Department’s Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer Eliz­a­beth Car­pen­tier specif­i­cal­ly threat­ened par­ents with “crim­i­nal account­abil­i­ty” and reports to police if they refused the test for their children.

Hood report­ed Car­pen­tier said that par­ents could be charged with tru­an­cy and could spend 30 days in jail if even a sin­gle day of test­ing is missed. Addi­tion­al­ly, Hood said Car­pen­tier not­ed dur­ing the meet­ing that groups that encour­age par­ents to refuse the Com­mon Core-aligned tests could be charged with aid­ing and abet­ting a crime.

Sheri Few, a SCPIE leader who was a can­di­date for state super­in­ten­dent of edu­ca­tion last year, told Bre­it­bart News, “Carpentier’s egre­gious threats to dis­tricts, par­ents and stu­dents are inexcusable.”

In an email exchange with Bre­it­bart News, Dino Tep­pa­ra, direc­tor of the Pub­lic Infor­ma­tion Office for the South Car­oli­na Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, respond­ed for Car­pen­tier, stat­ing, “Let me pref­ace them by first not­ing that the state­ments made in response to Ms. Carpentier’s com­ments were issued by an orga­ni­za­tion led by a can­di­date who ran for state super­in­ten­dent of edu­ca­tion last year. So they should be tak­en in that context.”

Tep­pa­ra denied all of the state­ments Hood report­ed Car­pen­tier made at the meeting.

Regard­ing a state­ment attrib­uted to Car­pen­tier that school dis­tricts are not to give in to parental requests to refuse the tests, Tep­pa­ra said:

No. Ms. Car­pen­tier said that schools have a statu­to­ry oblig­a­tion to admin­is­ter the tests. She was pro­vid­ing guid­ance on schools’ duties. She specif­i­cal­ly stat­ed that the statutes refer to our oblig­a­tions to admin­is­ter tests, and make no ref­er­ence to whether par­ents have a right to refuse the tests for their stu­dents. More­over, there is no way schools admin­is­ter­ing tests can force a stu­dent to take the test, or do their best on the test. The statutes address what the edu­ca­tion sys­tem must do in con­nec­tion with tests, and are silent on what par­ents may or may not do.

In addi­tion, there is no express “opt out” pro­vi­sion in our state or fed­er­al statutes.

To Hood’s state­ment that Car­pen­tier said that school dis­tricts should deny all parental requests for alter­na­tive accom­mo­da­tions for stu­dents, and keep chil­dren refus­ing the test in a test room in hopes they will go against their par­ents’ wish­es and take the test, Tep­pa­ra said, “No. Ms. Car­pen­tier said that schools had no oblig­a­tion to sup­ply alter­na­tive edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ties for stu­dents because of their statu­to­ry oblig­a­tion to admin­is­ter the tests.”

Tep­pa­ra also denied that Car­pen­tier said if a child is kept out of school on test­ing days, par­ents can be held crim­i­nal­ly account­able and can be report­ed to police.

No,” he said. “She sim­ply not­ed the tru­an­cy pro­vi­sions in state statutes.”

Regard­ing jail time for par­ents, Tep­pa­ra again denied Car­pen­tier made a state­ment to that effect.

No. … There is no auto­mat­ic jail stay in our crim­i­nal statutes, and of course, she nev­er would have said that,” he responded.

The bur­den of proof is on South Car­oli­na Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (SCDE) to prove that par­ents can’t refuse–not that tests have to be administered–which SCDE hasn’t done despite numer­ous par­ents’ requests to do so,” Hood told Bre­it­bart News. “Lack of an ‘opt out’ clause in South Car­oli­na is irrel­e­vant because there is no law that requires every stu­dent to take a cer­tain test.”

Hood also not­ed that Car­pen­tier “strong­ly pres­sured school dis­tricts not to go under the 95 per­cent test par­tic­i­pa­tion rate need­ed for Title I funding.”

New York hasn’t received any such ‘sanc­tion’ and they have over 150,000 stu­dents refus­ing test­ing this year,” she added. “South Car­oli­na will not lose fed­er­al fund­ing because we were grant­ed a waiv­er to No Child Left Behind from the Oba­ma administration.”

Hood charged that Spear­man is hid­ing behind Car­pen­tier, and that both have been hid­ing from par­ents who request infor­ma­tion about test refusal.

Instead of tak­ing the lead, fir­ing Car­pen­tier, and instruct­ing par­ents of their right to refuse, Ms. Spear­man has tak­en a back­seat, gone MIA, and tried to blame Sheri Few,” she assert­ed. “By keep­ing Car­pen­tier employed, she is hyp­o­crit­i­cal­ly advo­cat­ing for a bul­ly. Because Ms. Spear­man has not stood up for par­ents and the chil­dren she has promised to serve, she can be con­sid­ered com­plic­it and should lose her position.”

It is tru­ly a sad state of affairs when our State Super­in­ten­dent of Education’s office is will­ing to lie to cov­er up their mis­takes, there­by accus­ing inno­cent par­ents of lying instead,” Few said in a state­ment to Bre­it­bart News.

She added:

Rather than lying about what was said and attempt­ing to dis­par­age the char­ac­ter of those who exposed the truth, it would be wis­er for Super­in­ten­dent Spear­man to make a pub­lic state­ment denounc­ing the threats made by her COO, apol­o­gize to the par­ents of South Car­oli­na, and fire Ms. Carpentier.

Few said Carpentier’s atti­tude reflects the sen­ti­ment of edu­ca­tion elit­ists who have no regard for par­ents and treat them in a con­de­scend­ing manner.

This shame­ful atti­tude, and the bla­tant dis­re­gard for parental con­cerns, is what moti­vat­ed the move­ment to refuse the test,” she con­tin­ued. “The sim­ple fact is, the test that par­ents are refus­ing is aligned with Com­mon Core, and most par­ents are moti­vat­ed to refuse because the sys­tem con­tin­ues to ignore their dis­ap­proval of the Com­mon Core standards.”