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Proposed policy change sparks U-46 board debate
This is the second of two stories addressing proposed changes to the U-46 Policy 5. There are changes proposed to 51 sections, two of which were debated. This story addresses Code 5.203.
By Seth Hancock
A biological male could be assigned to supervise the girls locker room and vice versa according to School District U-46 officials if the Board of Education approves changes to its policy under Section 5 concerning personnel.
The changes were discussed at the board meeting on Monday, Jan. 14 with a vote expected on Monday, Feb. 4.
One of the hotly debated changes came under Code 5.203 (teacher assignments and transfers) which Luis Rodriguez, assistant attorney, said “adds language to make protected class verbiage among the board’s policies consistent.” The change states personnel “will be assigned without regard to… gender identification” among other protected classes.
Board member Jeanette Ward said she was concerned that teachers could possibly supervise locker rooms of students of the opposite sex with this proposal.
Ward asked: “What if a biologically male teacher who believes he is a female is assigned to supervise the girls locker room? How does that apply to this case, and will parents be informed?”
After nearly 30 seconds of silence Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, said he’d “take the first crack at it.” He said teachers would be “assigned without regard to the protected classes,” and Luis Rodriguez said: “Assignments will be based upon the needs of the school district and upon the qualifications of staff members.”
“So I think you have to make a determination about who’s going to supervise locker rooms based on objectively male or female, correct?” Ward asked.
Luis Rodriguez said it’ll be “based upon the needs of the school district.”
Ward said: “If I continue to follow that logic, we’d be discriminating because we’re not going to transfer a biologically male person to be in charge of females changing in locker rooms…. Wouldn’t that discriminate against them if they believe they are a female?”
“If you have a transgender woman, would she be allowed to be in the locker room…” board member Sue Kerr pondered and Miguel Rodriguez said: “I think the answer would probably be yes.” Kerr said: “I would think so too.”
U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “even if we had a transgender P.E. teacher… I don’t see the hypothetical ever occurring.” Luis Rodriguez said: “It’s a good question to ponder if we got there. There’s so many things to happen before that to make that scenario very unlikely.”
“I think this policy leaves it open,” Ward responded.
Board member Veronica Noland, either unwilling or unable to address the issue, accused Ward of being offensive.
“I’m going to object,” Noland said. “You’re manufacturing this scenario. You’re using terms that are offensive to transgendered persons.”
Noland said transgendered teachers have a right to privacy while performing their public job and then claimed: “Our policy is perfect. We work on it on a case by case basis.”
“This isn’t a hypothetical. This has existed in national news,” Ward said to which Noland said these discussions should be private.
“This is a policy that’s going to apply to that situation,” Ward said.
“That’s correct and we’re going to protect our students, we’re going to protect our employees and we’re going to manage the situation the best way we can,” Noland said.
Ward said: “If what we talked about happens you’re not going to protect our students. Our students will not be protected.”
Noland said Ward was “looking for a debate” and she’s “going to find every single opportunity that you have to drum this up.”
Ward replied: “I did not make these proposed changes.”
“I think you’ve made your opinion clear,” Noland said. “I think everyone else has had an opportunity. I will stop in a second here and I think we need to move on because this is dragging on these meetings.”
Noland continued for another minute and complained that Ward would continue to perform her role as a board member by raising concerns when they come to her and she’s “going to bring it up in how many curriculum” items.
“You can count on that,” Ward said. “Yes, you can count on that.”
Noland said: “To what end Ms. Ward? To what end? This is going on for political reasons only. You’re not making changes here. It’s not happening. I’m done.”
“It’s political to start with and I call it out and I’m the one who’s political? Excuse me,” Ward responded.