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CHCCS board chooses not to comply with some parts of Parents' Bill of Rights


The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Administrative Office building in Chapel Hill, N.C., is pictured on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.

On Jan. 18, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education held its first meeting of the year to discuss topics such as the Parents’ Bill of Rights and the Exceptional Children program restructuring.

What’s new?

  • The board began by introducing four new administrative hires.
    • The board appointed Steven Sullivan as the new principal of Chapel Hill High School and Dorian Locklear as the new assistant principal of CHHS.
    • The board appointed Marlene Bennett as the assistant principal of Carrboro High School and Fonda Robinson as the CHCCS senior executive director of Exceptional Children.
  • School library media specialist and district equity coach Rebeka Barringer presented the board’s recognition of Scroggs Elementary for their Hispanic Heritage Month read-in and for sustaining a culture of equity and sense of belonging.
    • Barringer said one of the practices Scroggs has implemented in recent years include an African-American History Month read-in, in addition to the Hispanic Heritage Month read-in.
      • The school is working to implement an Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month read-in.
    • Scroggs held professional development sessions with staff, covering topics such as the CHCCS Racial Literacy Framework and representation within Culturally Relevant Read Alouds, Barringer said.
  • During public comment, Chapel Hill High School student Ella Smith, the co-president of the CHHS Queer-Straight Alliance, presented concerns with the district’s implementation of S.B. 49, the Parents’ Bill of Rights. Smith said students experienced discrimination and decreased access to resources since its passage.
    • S.B. 49 was passed last year by the Republican supermajority in the N.C. General Assembly over the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper. The bill requires public schools to notify parents of official changes in students’ legal names or pronouns.
    • “The point of high school is to learn how to find your own path and set yourself up to be the best version of yourself. This bill will prevent that from happening,” Smith said.
    • Other students, community members and educators expressed concerns as well.

What’s changed?

  • The board unanimously voted to approve several policies upon their first read and moved on to discuss the Parents’ Bill of Rights in-depth. 
    • Board Chair George Griffin said he recommends the board not comply with parts of S.B. 49, specifically two parts about the pronoun passage and the identity-gender discussion.
      • He suggested the board develop a statement announcing they will comply with the law up until this point, but that their current system works well for students.
    • After discussion, the board unanimously approved a motion in which they will comply with the law, except for two specific omitted sections and provide staff with further guidance on how to approach requests for student name changes, while still protecting students and staff.
  • Erin Watts, the interim director of compliance for exceptional children, and CHCCS Superintendent Nyah Hamlett presented updates on the Exceptional Children’s Department.
    • The presentation included a breakdown of the district’s EC demographics, historical shortfalls of the program and a rationale for change that highlights improved communication and enhanced instructional programming.
    • “I think the big message is that we are making the changes to our department to take an opportunity for us to prioritize the needs of our children by amplifying our focus on those core functions that I mentioned — compliance and most importantly, specially designed instruction,” Hamlett said.

What’s next?

The board will hold a work session on Feb. 1and will meet again on Feb. 15 at the Lincoln Center in Chapel Hill.

@DTHCityState |

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