Ryan Lowery is an award-winning investigative journalist who covers politics for The Paper. He has reported on New Mexico for the Las Vegas Optic, Source NM, Santa Fe Reporter, Los Angeles Times and others.

Albuquerque Public Schools board members revisited a proposed policy change Thursday evening during a committee meeting. The proposed change would detail rights and responsibilities parents have when it comes to the education their children receive from the district.

The board agreed to strike some language from the proposed policy but ultimately agreed to table any vote on it until a later date. Had the board approved the policy, it would have gone up for a final vote on July 20. No specific date was set for restarting public debate on the policy, but policy analyst Dr. Heather Bassett suggested it could be the end of the year before it was ready to go to a vote.

The timeframe is based on proposed changes to the policy, and to give the committee time to hold a series of meetings to work out the details.

Several board members were adamant that wording in the policy be changed to ensure it provided rights to students as well as parents, and to make the overall process more collaborative.

District 4 Board Member Barbara Petersen raised concerns that by emphasizing the rights of parents, the board could be unwillingly taking rights away from students.

“We’ve got to defend students’ rights as well as parents’ rights,” she said. “I don’t think this document gets us there, so I support tabling (the issue) so that we can really have the kind of discussion and conversation that we need.”

District 7 Board Member Courtney Jackson said each board member had received hundreds of emails from members of the community who’d raised concerns that the proposed policy could weaken the rights of students, particularly those who are LGBTQ.

At the center of the public debate is language in the policy that states parents have the right “to have access to all educational records of a school district concerning their child,” which would include “educational and/or social support plans, school counseling records, and school health records.” Board members said they’d heard from people who feared information in those records could even “out” a student.

Jackson, a lead author of the policy, addressed the board and those in attendance to stress that the intention of the proposed policy is to make it easier for parents to know their rights.

“The intent of this policy is to provide transparency and accessibility for parents and guardians,” she said. “This policy is not intended to out students, to create fear, to betray trust or to hinder communication with counselors.”

Following more than an hour of discussion, the board voted to table the matter by a vote of 6 to 1. Jackson was the only board member to vote against tabling the issue.