Students' policies are in place
Students’ Policies: Adopted with 1 reading, now available for 56’s on-line policy manual
A majority of the School District 56 Board of Trustees decided again last Monday not to allow special protections against discrimination for students based on their sexual orientation.
The board passed Students’ Policies, Section J in the district handbook, without a first reading, going straight to second and final reading.
The move keeps District 56 in line with most other school districts in South Carolina. Just a handful have amended their anti-discrimination clauses to include protections for LBGTQIA students. The anti-discrimination clauses would apply to employees, as well.
Board member Dr. Patsy Sadler has said without the special protection clause, District 56 is saying it’s OK to discriminate against gay students and, by extension, gay employees. Other board members reject that “if you’re not against it, you’re for it” argument.
The Students’ Policies have needed updating since 1998. One clause before the March 25 revision allowed the district to monitor students’ activities on MySpace. Added to the policy were four bullet points outlining when employees are allowed to use force against students (active shooter, threat to others, etc). Another administrative rule “puts teeth into” anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, the board was told.
School choice was removed; that’s covering under state law.
There was no debate about the sexual orientation measure; it has been discussed before by the board. Discussion indicated state education legal advisors do not want this protection in school districts‘ anti-discrimination clauses (the state itself does not offer these protections), and there is a concern that including it opens the district to allowing boys who identify as girls to use girls‘ restrooms, possibly causing a disruption.
Instead of discussion, rejection of the sexual orientation protection was procedural. Sadler did not muster enough support to “pull out” all the references to anti-discrimination and force separate votes on each. She wanted to consider the Students‘ Policies “in two batches” waiving first reading and moving to second. Her motion did not receive a second.
A motion to waive first reading and move to second on the entire package of policies passed 4-3. Board member Tammy Stewart made the motions, seconded by Keith Richardson, and they along with Board Chairman Jim Barton and member Edna McGee voted “yes”. Sadler and board members Jan Simmons and Kim Williams-Carter voted “no”.
The vote was the same for a motion to pass the entire Section J with no modifications from the way it was recommended by the district administration (no sexual orientation protection).
Approving the entire Section J was done on a motion by Stewart, seconded by McGee and voted “yes”, 4-3.
Assistant Superintendent for Operations Dr. David Pitts said with the approval, District 56 can add updated Students‘ Policies to its on-line policy manual for public inspection.
The next meeting of the District 56 Board of Trustees will be Monday, April 22, 7:30 p.m. at Clinton Elementary School. The March 25 meeting was held at the MS Bailey Child Development Center.