Indiana AG launches portal for parents to monitor public schools’ discriminatory policies, content

(The Daily Signal) – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced, in an exclusive interview Monday with The Daily Signal, the launch of a public portal online for parents in the state’s…

(The Daily Signal) – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced, in an exclusive interview Monday with The Daily Signal, the launch of a public portal online for parents in the state’s public schools to submit and monitor content of concern to them. 

“This is a tool to empower parents in their dealings with their own school system so they can better raise their kids, which is their job and not the schools’,” Rokita, a Republican, said of the online portal.

The past several years have seen national concern about public school systems hiding discriminatory and sexually or racially inappropriate content and policies from parents. Indiana is no exception. 

Dozens of Indiana schools have incorporated critical race theory and gender transition plans without the consent of, much less the awareness of, many Hoosier parents.

Accuracy in Media last year released undercover videos in which several administrators at five Indiana public schools admitted to teaching critical race theory despite telling parents otherwise. At least two of those administrators since have stepped down or been placed on leave.

A previous report by The Daily Signal exposed one Indiana school system’s hidden gender support plan, which required teachers to omit information about a student’s “gender transition” in conversations with his or her parents. The school system fired that whistleblower, a school counselor, for revealing the information; she is currently suing the district.

As attorney general, Rokita outlined these “constituent concerns” as the rationale behind his office’s new “Eyes on Education” online portal, which would allow parents to submit policies, lesson plans, and other concerning matters to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s office and placed on a public database for other parents to see.

The vision for the portal began to take shape around the end of 2021, Rokita told The Daily Signal:

Parents were sending me lesson plans. This is around the time that we were calling out critical race theory and this social [and] emotional learning that was being taught to teachers and then teachers to the students, and it was corrupting the whole educational experience.

Many teachers and administrators claimed that critical race theory and radical gender ideology were not being taught in public schools. But, using social media, many parents posted concerning videos, screenshots, lessons, and policies that showed otherwise.

“So either these parents are part of a huge conspiracy and making all this stuff up, as the teachers and principals and school board members would have you believe,” Rokita said, “or there’s really something going on—even in good ol’ Indiana. So we’ve been collecting these different submissions for about the last year and a half.”

I asked Rokita what plans were in place to verify materials sent to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office—citing a situation in which many Hoosier parents were fooled by a hoax about litter boxes at a high school in Kokomo, Indiana.

Rokita responded that “rumor mill” submissions would result in a call to the individual who submitted the material, followed up by a second look by his office’s investigators. 

“We deal with very complex, complicated professional licensing issues, so to speak, and ten of thousands of other cases per year,” Rokita responded. “We can get to the root of a liar, of a fake, pretty easy. But really it’s also for self-policing.”

The attorney general said he thinks this is a job for the state superintendent of schools. But just like the Parents Bill of Rights document that Rokita launched in June 2021, he said, he took on this project because “no one’s picking up the mantle.”

The theme of the entire project is transparency, Rokita said. If a school system disagrees with what has been posted by his office, the attorney general said, the “denial” also will be posted.

“I’m not going to go and start investigating schools,” Rokita said. “No. 1, I don’t have the statutory authority to go in there. But this is going to be a portal, a transparent portal where we can cut through the rumor mill.”

To cut through this “rumor mill,” Rokita said, his office would post only primary documents and verified material, letters, and policies from the schools.