Local school districts sue to stop new state regulations

PENNSYLVANIA — Three Western Pennsylvania school districts — Mars, Laurel and Penncrest as well as some parents and teachers — filed a lawsuit Monday in commonwealth court against the state’s Department of Education to try to stop the new set of 49 regulations the state shared with districts last November.

They are called the Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education Program Framework Guidelines and require things like acknowledging biases exist in the educational system and working to understand their own biases.

“Throughout these regulations, there are provisions that say school districts must ensure that teachers should believe certain things you can’t do that in America and you certainly can’t do that in Pennsylvania,” said attorney Thomas King.

King pointed out the regulations he thinks are most problematic and vague.

One regulation requires educators to disrupt harmful institutional practices.

Another one requires educators to believe and acknowledge that microaggressions are real. That’s when someone unintentionally expresses prejudice towards a person or group.

“It’s going to create a situation where teachers are going to be called upon to police both thought and speech in schools,” King said.

King also said the state did not go through the regulatory process.

But Casey Smith, the communications director for the state’s Department of Education, said the guidelines were created with bipartisan feedback from state lawmakers, education, experts, students, teachers and parents.

Districts are required to implement the guidelines starting July 1.

The state’s Department of Education said the guidelines are to train teachers to better serve students from all walks of life and provide approaches to equip educators to handle mental wellness and other issues.

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