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Parental Empowerment: The Fight for Educational Transparency in Rhode Island


Parents have the right to be informed about their children's education, but unfortunately, schools don’t always respect that right. 

Parents in Rhode Island are currently fighting for their right to access public records about their children's education. The fight has been led by Nicole Solas, a mother who was denied access to meetings of the school district's taxpayer-funded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Advisory Board. The Board's weekly meetings were slated to involve discussions about district policies regarding curriculum, hiring, discipline, and accountability, among other practices.

Solas's case is important because it highlights the need for transparency in public education. Parents have a right to know what is happening in their children's schools and to have a say in how their children are educated. The school board has a responsibility to give parents access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their children's education.

The Backstory: 
A Mother's Quest for Transparency

Nicole Solas, a Rhode Island mother, was simply trying to do what any parent would do: ensure her daughter received a quality education. When she enrolled her child in kindergarten, she sought information about the school's curriculum, a natural step for any concerned parent. However, her request was met with an unexpected response – a wave of resistance from the school district and even a lawsuit from the teachers' union.

Nicole's quest for transparency quickly turned into a battle for parental rights. She was stonewalled, harassed, and even threatened with legal action for simply asking questions about her child's education. Her experience highlights the alarming trend of school districts and unions attempting to shield their actions from public scrutiny, often at the expense of parental involvement.

This struggle underlines the critical intersection of parental rights and educational transparency. Nicole's experiences underscore the necessity for parents to have access to education records and to be actively involved in their children's educational journeys. And her story spotlights the importance of parental rights and involvement in the education system, emphasizing the legal framework that ensures parents can make informed decisions about their children's education.

Goldwater Institute: 
Championing Parental Rights

Nicole, facing opposition in her efforts, sought support from the Goldwater Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding individual liberties. Recognizing the importance of Nicole's case, the Institute viewed it as a chance to champion parental rights and advocate for transparency in education.

Taking on Nicole's case pro bono, Goldwater Institute showcased its dedication to empowering parents and ensuring their active role in their children's education. By representing Nicole, they conveyed a clear message nationwide: parents possess the right to understand their children's education and be informed about decisions affecting it.

Goldwater Institute's commitment extends beyond individual cases; they actively support the parental rights foundation and work towards ensuring parents' authority in directing their children's upbringing.

Case Details: 
A Fight for Open Meetings and 
Access to Public Information

Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the South Kingstown School District on behalf of Nicole Solas, alleging violations of Rhode Island's Open Meetings Act. The lawsuit specifically cited the school district's refusal to allow Nicole to attend meetings of the taxpayer-funded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Advisory Board despite the board's significant influence on school policy.

The lawsuit also challenged the school district's evasive tactics in response to Nicole's public records requests regarding the kindergarten curriculum. The district's attempt to charge Nicole an exorbitant fee for this information further highlighted their efforts to obstruct transparency and parental involvement.

Goldwater Institute's representation of Nicole Solas has garnered significant attention and set a precedent for upholding parental rights in education. The case serves as a reminder that parents have a crucial role to play in their children's education and that transparency is essential for fostering trust and ensuring accountability in our schools.

While the case is still ongoing, it has already had a positive impact. The teachers' union has withdrawn its attempt to block Nicole's access to public records, and the school district has been compelled to respond to her requests in a more timely and transparent manner.

A Call to Action for Parents

Nicole Solas's story is a powerful reminder of the importance of parental involvement in education and the need for transparency in our schools. Her case highlights the challenges parents face in accessing information and participating in decision-making processes that affect their children's education.

Goldwater Institute's efforts on behalf of Nicole Solas provide a beacon of hope for parents seeking to assert their rights and ensure accountability in their children's education. Their work demonstrates the importance of organizations that champion parental involvement and advocate for open and transparent governance in our schools.

As parents, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about our children's education and to engage with the school community. We must demand transparency from our school districts and unions and hold them accountable for their actions. By actively participating in our children's education, we can ensure that they receive the quality education they deserve.


Contact the Goldwater Institute.