New Bill Limits Parents’ Rights to Withdraw Students From Public Schools

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

A Tennessee senator has filed a bill that would limit parents’ rights to withdraw their children from state public schools.

Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-District 10) filed Senate Bill 0417 on Tuesday.  Gardenhire is a member of the Senate Education Committee.

The bill’s summary states that, as introduced, the bill “prohibits a parent or guardian of a student who has accumulated five or more days of unexcused absences during the school year from withdrawing the student from school during the school year except for certain circumstances.” – Amends TCA Title 37; Title 39; and Title 49, Chapter 6.


Currently, state law allows parents or guardians to withdraw a student from public school for any reason, without permission. 

The law would be amended to stipulate that a student can only be withdrawn if 

1- The student’s place of residence changes;

2 – The student is seeking to withdraw to transfer to another school in the LEA or another LEA pursuant to a local board of education’s open enrollment policy or out-of-district transfer policy; or

3 – The student enrolls in a nonpublic school.


Critics of the bill say this is “an assault on parent’s rights” because parents should be free to make all educational choices for their children and should not be forced to enroll in an umbrella school if they opt out of public schooling. 

Others worry that if this bill passes, it will only be a matter of time before it is amended again to include even more stipulations that would provide parents with even fewer options outside of public schools.


If passed, the new law would go into effect with the upcoming school year.

This legislation stands in sharp contrast to Gardenhire’s bill that seeks to expand Tennessee’ Education Savings Account Program (school vouchers) to Hamilton County and potentially other counties with large school districts.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

9 thoughts on “New Bill Limits Parents’ Rights to Withdraw Students From Public Schools

  • January 26, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    What would happen to pulling children from public school in order to homeschool?

  • January 26, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    When did Gardenhire become a Republican ? Better yet? How?

  • January 26, 2023 at 10:24 pm

    RINO puke!!

  • January 26, 2023 at 11:03 pm

    Another assault on parental rights.

  • January 27, 2023 at 5:41 am

    At the moment I am horrified. I came across this article while looking for information that has left me sick to my stomach.
    “Former Tennessee elementary school principal facing new sex crime charges.”
    I moved to Williamson County for the school system because my son was a special needs child. I was not happy with Maury County’s special needs education program. My son attended Longview School as a kindergartner. Dr. Jonathon Ullrich was his principal. My son was a student there from kindergarten to 3rd grade. There was a parent’s support group that met to share information and learn more about parenting skills with special needs children. Dr. Ullrich stated his young daughter was a special needs child and he was in that group. Even though he was not in charge of the group he played a big part and many parents looked up to him for advice. I vividly recall him demonstrating actions of his daughter’s behavior but don’t remember exactly what he said but I left the meeting feeling puzzled and unsettled. My 5 year old was alone with that man and I have no idea how many times during time outs when my son being overwhelmed in the classroom. I am upset with myself because I sensed there was something very odd about Ullrich and I didn’t protect my child. How do I approach the conversation with my now almost 21 year old son if Dr. Ullrich had done anything that was inappropriate? How would a child know?
    I was scared to death and panicked going in the school office because Dr. Ullrich had reptiles in aquarium tanks. Who in their right mind would have reptiles as school pets let alone breed them? I was so shaken up.
    Superintendent Dr. Looney was just that, “looney”. He made horrible decisions that affected my child’s entire school education. Williamson County School System allowed Ullrich to remain employed in the school district after allegations of sexual harassments to female employees. “He violated the district’s anti-harassment policy by making inappropriate comments to a staff member” stated Looney. He was suspended for 3 days without pay, required to attend harassment/sensitivity training and allowed to finish the rest of the school year on temporary assignment at the Williamson County School District’s central office. I wonder what Dr. Looney tunes is thinking now? I have a photo of my son on his birthday in Ullrich’s office eating a cupcake.
    Parent’s should have the right to follow their instincts!!! I had no idea until an hour ago that Dr. Jonathon Ullrich is a pedophile, rapist, child abuser, committed incest, sexual exploitation of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor with possession of over 100 images and who knows what else. Those children should not have been in danger of being abused let alone sexually abused by a known sexual psycho.
    Senator Gardenshire, a questionable parenting decision is better than a fatal one.
    I recommend that the Senator from Chattanooga District 10 spend his time connecting the dots from Vice President Joe Biden bragging about threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine as a pressure tactic to force the firing of a prosecutor he did not like.
    Take it from here Todd. Biden “And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. The former Vice President stated that he had gotten a commitment from Ukraine’s President Poroshenko and from Ukraine Prime Minister Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him.
    I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
    Bribery, treason, etc… connect all the dots Gardenshire.
    Leave parenting rights alone.

  • January 27, 2023 at 9:38 pm

    As a parent I feel this is one more step into communism. . .id rather move out of state or country than have “uncle sam” in my business all the time. This is gone too far . Stop it

    • January 31, 2023 at 10:08 pm

      Here’s some advice. Stand up and fight for your God given rights for a change instead of running. America is the last bastion of freedom in the world. So where are you going to run to? Take action, instead of doing nothing. Save America. Cowards do nothing, lions fight back.
      In God we trust not government or man.
      Have a blessed day.

  • January 31, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    This is violating my rights as a parent and I will NOT have my child participate in a school district that enforces this.
    You can’t have a protocol set in place for every single potential situation an individual family might face. Let go of trying to take what rights we’re left with this day in age.
    MY KIDS.


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