By Zachary J. Thornley

If you have children, you likely are concerned with the wellbeing of your child. Parents must be concerned with both their children’s physical and mental health. Most parents want the best for their children, and that includes education. Arizona often ranks at the bottom of all the states for spending per capita per student.

In fact, a somewhat recent report conducted by the University of Arizona’s Economic and Research Center cites that as of June 2, 2021, Arizona spent $8,625 per pupil compared to a national average of $13,187. In that study, only Utah and Idaho spent less on their students. Combined with low per capita spending, many schools have chosen to project controversial subjects onto children that are in direct conflict with what the parents wish for their children to be exposed to or taught.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges and also provided valuable insights into the diverse needs and preferences for our children’s education. We are fortunate to have a variety of educational options available – including private, public, and charter schools, as well as in-person and online formats. Each option offers its unique advantages and potential drawbacks, allowing families to choose what aligns best with their needs and values.

Parenting is undeniably a demanding and significant role. It’s essential for parents to find support and strategies that reduce stress and help in nurturing their children according to cherished family values. The availability of different educational choices is one of the ways parents can tailor their approach to best support their children’s growth and development.

No matter where your child is attending, there are remedies for when or if you find that your child’s study has strayed beyond the boundaries of your values.

Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S. §1-602) provides:
1. The right to direct the education of your child.
2. All rights of parents identified in title 15, including the right to access and review all records relating to your child.
3. The right to direct the upbringing of your child.
4. The right to direct the moral or religious training of your child.
5. The right to make all health care decisions for your child, including rights related to vaccinations, surgical procedures on your child, and mental health treatment.
6. The right to request, access, and review all written and electronic medical records of your child.
7. The right to consent prior to any biometric scan of your child.
8. The right to consent in writing prior to your child’s DNA being taken.
9. The right to consent in writing prior to any recordings being made of your child, whether voice or video, and other rights too numerous to mention here.

The central concept with this bill is that your children are yours to raise with the values you hold dear to you and your family. This Parents’ Bill of Rights gives the parents the right to sue for damages caused by any entity, government or private, that violates the parents’ rights.

You are not helpless. In Arizona, your ability to be a parent is still intact, but it is imperative that parents understand and assert their rights. Most good attorneys will advise that lawsuits are an avenue of last resort and therefore, it is best to consult with an attorney if you feel that you have an issue that needs to be addressed so an attorney can make a legal determination about what may be the best course of action for your situation.

Zachary J. Thornley is a trial attorney licensed in the state of Arizona. To learn more, visit The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and in no way creates an attorney-client relationship. Contact an experienced attorney in your area for advice on your specific situation.