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Advocates, school board pass Bill of Rights for Richmond parents and students

Richmond Public Schools
Posted at 11:26 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 23:26:20-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A new policy hopes to clear up any questions that Richmond families and students may have about their rights in schools.

After a Richmond School Board Meeting, students, parents and caregivers will have access to a Bill of Rights.

Cynthia Reyez is an RPS parent and a member of Virginia-Organizing. They worked together with the district to create the policy.

"Every child should have the right and does have the right to have an equal opportunity for their education, especially if they're coming from another country. It's not accessible for us, the parents or the students. The language is very different. The main goal is for everyone to understand in plain English what are the rights."

Reyez was joined by Paul Fleisher in the fight for more clear rights.

"They don't always know that their children are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as other children. We wanted to lay this out so it was clear as possible what rights their children have," Fleisher, a retired teacher, said.

The Bill of Rights, voted in by the school board, lays out seven key points.

  • The right for all to be treated equally
  • Students have the freedom of religion, speech and expression
  • The right to opt-out of activities conflicting with beliefs
  • Non-English speakers and students with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone

There were also more clearly defined rights for parents and students who are impacted by homelessness.

"It was an astonishing moment, a great achievement for everyone who shared their stories and how much they suffered," Reyez said.

The move was a win for many in the Richmond school district. Many hope that this model can be taken and used in more school districts across Central Virginia and the rest of the state.

"Knowledge is power and I think for everyone to know and be reminded that they have this. It will make it easier for everyone."

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