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Indiana Senate amends anti-CRT bill to require permission from parents for invasive surveys

The surveys often are done by outside companies that have come under fire from parent groups for asking personal questions.

Published: February 24, 2022 11:35am

Updated: February 24, 2022 2:12pm

(The Center Square) -

The Indiana Senate education committee amended House Bill 1134 to require schools to get permission of parents before asking their children to complete surveys in school – surveys often done by outside companies that have come under fire from parent groups for asking personal questions about a child’s habits, thoughts and feelings.

The bill has become known as the bill to address parents’ concerns with Critical Race Theory in schools, but it also contains several other sections, including the one dealing with student surveys.

The amendment offered by the Senate sponsor of the bill Sen. Linda Rogers, R- Granger, which passed the committee, says that schools need a “hard opt-in by the parent” in order to collect survey information from students that identify the individual students.

Jennifer Hendrix, a mother of four children who lives in Carmel, said she and other concerned parents met with senators recently and asked this language be included.

“Ideally, I would think that they wouldn’t do them at all,” she says of schools and surveys.

Hendrix says she became concerned about the surveys that were being given to her children in school after hearing about some of the questions being asked, and not knowing how the information would be used.

She asked school administrators to see surveys, but they refused.

“We couldn’t see the questions because they said it was proprietary,” she said.

She was assured by the principal that when the survey results were stored, they wouldn’t show information that would personally identify a particular student. But she said her son told her he entered his student identification number to take the survey. When Hendrix contacted the outside company that does the surveys, Panorama, she said it confirmed this, saying all students enter student identification numbers and survey results are stored with these numbers.

“They did not tell the truth about the personal information that would be collected,” Hendrix says of the school.

HB 1134, as amended, would change that.

The bill now says a school corporation or school may only “record, collect and maintain” responses to an analysis, evaluation or survey in a way that identifies an individual student if the parent “provides written consent.”

It also says schools must make instructional materials “available for inspection” by parents and includes in this definition materials related to surveys and also instruction on human sexuality.

It removes an exception for surveys related to academic instruction that had been in the bill and says students “shall not be required” to participate in a survey that “directly reveals or attempts to affect the student’s attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs or feelings” on a wide range of issues, including “sexual behavior or attitudes" without the “prior written consent” of a parent.

Rogers’ amendment puts back certain things that were in the bill as it passed the House, including specifying that schools may not enter into contracts with any person or company to provide services or training related to a belief that one sex, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin is superior or inferior, or that anyone should be treated differently because of any of these things or made to feel responsible for actions committed in the past related to them.

The amendment also adds to the current state education law on "good citizenship instruction," saying schools must add instruction that stresses the importance of “understanding how the ideals and values expressed or enumerated in the Constitution of the United States and the economic and political institutions of the United States have contributed toward human advancement, prosperity, scientific inquiry and well-being” and also the importance of “individual rights, freedoms, and political suffrage.”

It does not, however, restore some provisions of the bill that were taken out by senators last week, such as the requirement that school corporations form curriculum advisory committees that include parents, and the requirement teachers post the curriculum for the class to an online portal at the start of the school year. It also did not restore the complaint procedure that would have allowed families to hold schools and school corporations legally responsible for violations of the act.

The bill will now advance to the full Senate, where it is expected to get a vote next week. The last day of the session for House bills to be voted on by the Senate is March 1.

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