My name is Nicole Rodriguez, and I am a member 9to5 Colorado, a grassroots organization that strengthens women’s abilities to win justice for working women. I am a widow with a 12-year-old son, and my family supports HB-1002, Parental Involvement for Academic Activities, which reenacts the 2009 “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act.” This bill would allow parents to take a limited amount of job-protected time off from work to attend their children’s academic activities.
In 2012, I thought I had found the perfect job working for the Cherry Creek School District’s Food and Nutrition Center at my son’s school. That year, my son got into trouble at school a couple of times. I was notified by my boss that the principal wanted to meet to talk about my son. However, my boss did not permit me to talk to the principal, or even to call someone else come and get him. My son was sitting alone in the principal’s office, and I was not even allowed to go down the hall to talk to them. When I couldn’t take time to speak with the principal about my son’s disciplinary issues, I was forced to call my mom, who then had to take time off from her job to come pick my son up, even though he was in the same building as me. Whenever I needed to have some time off for parent-teacher conferences, I would ask well in advance. No matter when I asked, I was always told no. I eventually ended up losing my job because I needed time to attend my son’s parent-teacher conferences.
When the parental involvement law was on the books, I wasn’t able to use it because I didn’t know it existed. But now that it’s gone, it is even more critical to stand with women and families and pass HB-1002. This time around, the bill includes critical language that will notify parents of their rights under the bill. Parents should be able to attend their child’s parent-teacher conferences, and other academic meetings, without fear of getting fired for it. When parents can attend their children’s academic activities, it puts much less stress on families, and leads to happier and healthier children. This creates a better work environment for everyone. My family and families like mine need the protections that HB-1002 provides.
Right after I testified about my experiences before the House Education Committee, a politician left the room to take his child to a doctor’s appointment, putting the vote on hold. When he returned to the Capitol, he voted against the bill. Thankfully, HB-1002 passed with the strong leadership of Representative Bucker, who represents me. When HB-1002 is voted on in the Senate, I hope that all politicians stand with women and families, and support this important legislation.