Platkin violates rights of parents in Hanover BOE School in New Jersey
- On May 16, the Hanover Township School Board passed policy 8463 known as Parental Notice of Material Circumstances. It requires school staff to notify parents whenever their child’s mental health or social and emotional well-being is impacted. It lists over 39 possible issues that parents need to be informed about.
- On May 17, Attorney General Matt Platkin filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Hanover Township Board of Education because of this newly approved policy. In his view, parents have the right to be informed of the majority of the 39 issues listed in the policy except when it comes to gender identity/expression and sexual orientation. On those issues, parents must be kept in the dark.
- A Court issued a temporary injunction barring the school board from following its adopted notification policy.
THE LEGAL SIDE
The Attorney General had the choice of filing his action in the Superior Court (where actions are transparent to the public) or before the Division of Civil Rights (DCR), which falls within the Attorney General’s responsibilities, under the Governor’s Executive authority. The DCR is an administrative agency with special authority allowing it to conduct its investigations in secret, away from public scrutiny. The Attorney General chose to bring his complaint under the DCR, which presents a conflict of interest and could block the school board from an impartial hearing.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
- The appointed Attorney General, representing the Governor, has chosen to challenge the right of a school board to notify parents when school staff becomes aware of something “that may have a material impact on the student’s physical and/or mental health, safety and/or social/emotional well-being.”
- Given the choice of pursuing his complaint publicly (before the Court) or in secret (before the Civil Rights Division of the AG’s office), the AG has chosen secrecy.
- At a May 30th hearing, Judge Stuart Minkowitz ruled that both sides of the argument negotiate to find a middle-ground solution without the need for Court intervention.
- On June 6, the Hanover Board of Education read a newly amended policy in good faith to find a workable compromise.
- On June 12, the Attorney General REJECTED this new policy and states he wants to cease all further discussions with the Hanover Board of Education.
Regardless of the outcome, the precedent will likely be binding on 685 other school districts, which may not have any input in the debate.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Pacific Justice Institute and a coalition of parental rights organizations are urging all New Jerseyans to sign a petition to be delivered to Attorney General Matthew Platkin requesting he moves the case out of the Division of Civil Rights and into Superior Court to be fully litigated, open, and transparent.
ENTER YOUR INFORMATION BELOW TO SIGN THE PETITION: