Parents, you have a right to know everything your children are taught. It is important to know Minnesota state law and how it pertains to your parental rights and your children’s learning environment. Minnesota law reminds schools that parents are the primary educator of their children and that schools must be supportive of the parents’ wishes.

Curriculum Review

Under Minnesota law, each school district must have a procedure for a parent to review the content of the instructional materials that are provided to their children and, if the parent objects to the content, must make reasonable arrangements for alternative instruction. Alternative instruction may be provided by the parent if the alternative instruction offered by the school board does not meet the concerns of the parent. (See “Alternative Curricula” for several options.)

First Amendment Rights

When necessary, your school should be reminded that you and your children’s First Amendment rights are not checked at the door — freedom of speech, religious freedoms and rights of conscience.

Constitutional free speech laws also protect students against compelled speech of any kind (such as, having them choose an identity group, stating whether they are an “oppressor” or “oppressed,” having to state their own preferred pronouns, having to say they are “racist,” have “privilege,” etc.).

Opt-Out Rights

In accordance with Minnesota statutes 120B.20 and 121A.15, and U.S. law, Minnesota parents can excuse and exempt their children for the school year from the following school instruction, programs, and/or activities:

  • Sex and HIV/AIDS education
  • Private information being collected in a survey, analysis or evaluation that reveals 1) the political affiliations or beliefs of your child or you, 2) mental or psychological problems of my child or his or her family, 3) sexual behavior or attitudes, 4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior, 5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships, 6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers, 7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of your child or you, or 8) income (other than required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
  • Immunization

Click here for an opt-out notice form that can be submitted to the school principal.

Requests for Public Data

In accordance with Chapter 13 of Minnesota Statutes, the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act gives everyone the right to inspect and have copies of public data. Public data include all the data a school district keeps unless there is a state or federal law that classifies the data in some other way. Upon request, a school district must provide public data to whoever asks, regardless of who is asking or why. The district cannot require the person submitting the data request to identify him or herself or explain the reason for the data request.

Requests for public data can include literature and curriculum materials, school policies, and other media or communication from or through political/advocacy groups, to name a few.

Making a Request

To request copies of data from a school district, requests must be in writing and reference that the request is being submitted under Chapter 13 of state law. The school district is not required to respond to or answer questions that are not requests for data.

For example: “Why did the school board decide to end its gifted and talented program?” This is a question about data that does not require a response under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

Instead, state: “I would like access to all data about why the school board decided to end its gifted and talented program.” This statement request for data would require a response.

Describe the data you are requesting as specifically as possible. Response time from the district depends on the data requested, staff members available to respond to the request, and how many other data requests the district is processing.

Most school districts have a data practices compliance official you can submit your request to. You can search “data request” on the district website to locate submission steps.

*NOTE: The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act does not require a district to create or collect new data in response to a data request.

Here is a public records letter generator from the Student Press Law Center to help you get started.