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Wyoming Attorney General Says Parents Can't Opt Children Out of Testing

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An opinion issued by the Wyoming Attorney General's Office bars parents from requesting that their children skip state tests.

The ruling, which was issued Aug. 27, but is making news this week, states that because the State Board of Education requires all school districts to assess students, "districts may not allow students or their parents to opt them out of the assessments provided by law."

In the opinion, Attorney General Peter K. Michael writes that the Wyoming Education Accountability Act, which was adopted in 2011, authorizes the state board to set up an assessment system requiring districts to administer tests to students. However, the ruling does not identify penalties for students who opt out of state tests.

Richard Crandall, the former director of the state's Department of Education, asked the attorney general to offer a legal opinion about parents' rights to opt out of state testing in April. He wrote that Wyoming, much like other states across the nation, had "anecdotally" experienced an increase in the number of students opting out of state and local assessments.

In his letter, Crandall asked "whether, under state and federal law, the [Department of Education] has correctly concluded that parent opt-outs of state assessments are not allowed." The Department of Education had notified local school districts that there was "no statutory authorization for parental opt-outs of state assessments."

(Crandall was forced to step down from his position after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill won a contentious legal battle over a 2013 law that stripped most of her authority over the state's public schools. Hill lost her Republican primary bid for governor in August.)

According to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Hill said although she did not request the attorney general's opinion she will notify parents about the ruling. She added that the opinion disregards the rights of parents.

Read both the attorney general's opinion and Crandall's letter here.

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