A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Legislature sends to Governor bills allowing parents to protest school materials, making hazing a crime

Staff report

In late-night sessions and working against the clock, the General Assembly has sent two more bills to the Governor’s desk for signature.

Thursday was the final day before lawmakers began an extended break to give the governor time to consider signing or vetoing the bills sent to him.

Parent pathway to challenge school materials

After a lengthy debate, the House voted 80-18 to send to Gov. Beshear a bill that provides a pathway for parents to challenge school instructional materials they deem “harmful” to children. The Senate approved SB 5 on a 29-4 vote last month.

Under the bill, parents would submit a complaint to the school principal who would make a decision on the disputed materials. Parents disagreeing with the decision could appeal to the local school board. The bill sets time limits on each phase of the process. Parents who disagree with the school board’s decision could choose to opt out their children from exposure to the disputed material and directs the state education department to adopt a model policy for the complaint resolution process.

Making a hazing a crime

After making a few changes, the House passed Senate Bill 9 on a 96-3 vote to make hazing a crime.

The anti-hazing bill would create a felony crime for hazing that results in the death or serious injury of a student, making it punishable by up to five years in prison. Someone accused of recklessly engaging in hazing would face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail.

Supporters of the bill include the family of Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood, a University of Kentucky student who died in 2021 at age 18 of alcohol toxicity after activities related to his pledging to a fraternity.

Though lawmakers worked into the late night Thursday, they will not meet again until the end of March for the final two days of the session — and to override any vetoes the Governor decides to impose.

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