NEVC board addresses transgender issues

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nevada Daily Mail

Charles Naas, Northeast Vernon County R-1 school district superintendent, held up an eight-page letter.

"Every school district in the country," said Naas "received a copy of this May 13 letter about complying with a new interpretation about Title IX and the use of restrooms and locker rooms for transgender students."

"This letter is five pages long, has three pages of footnotes," said Naas "and is co-signed by someone from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice."

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.

"This letter says that when a student or parent notifies the district 'that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representation or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student's identity,'" said Naas.

"But read what [U.S. Representative] Vicki Hartzler wrote to the president about this," said board member, Gina Ensor.

That letter, also dated May 13, 2016, asserts that the departments of education and justice "cannot point to statutory authority for the incorporation of sexual orientation and gender identity in its guidelines and, therefore, should clarify that not adhering to the policies therein cannot be grounds for inquiry, investigation, adverse findings, or recession of federal funding."

"I want to emphasize three things," said Naas. "First, last fall, you as the board of education adopted a policy that we shall not discriminate, but equally, we will not tolerate the mixing of sexes in bathrooms or dressing rooms."

"Second," continued Naas, "almost all of our bathrooms are unisex already and we could easily convert the others so that everyone would have equal access to equal facilities without discrimination or the mixing of sexes."

"And finally," added Naas, "other places may be going crazy but we're going to remember that our purpose is education. We're here to provide every student with a solid education."

Chris Hudson, high school principal, said, "I want to speak about the new Missouri Learning Standards. Unlike common core which dictated everything, these are guidelines that we get to fill in, which means we have freedom of choice, even the textbooks we use is up to us."

"Students need to be able to apply what they learn," said Hudson "and these standards balance knowledge with skills application."

"Will you have time to get everything ready for this fall?" asked board president, Robert Fox Jr.

"I've already recruited several groups of teachers," said Hudson "and they'll work in specific areas such as English/language arts, math and so on. We'll put together the curriculum in plenty of time so each teacher can be ready when we start in August."

The motion to adopt the Missouri Learning Standards received unanimous approval.

"We've had some questions, mainly from students," continued Hudson, "about the student handbook requirements for valedictorian and salutatorian. For example, students assume you have to attend four years to be in consideration but that's not in the handbook. So I'm giving each of you a copy of the handbook so that next month, we can take up this and anything else you see and get the language adopted in the July meeting."

"This year is the 20th anniversary of the merger that created the NEVC Knights," said Kendall Ogburn, elementary principal, "but that's nothing compared to the alumni association of the Schell City Bears. They'll hold their 129th annual banquet and meeting on Saturday, May 28, in the gymnasium of NEVC elementary school. They're a great group and one of the oldest high school alumni organizations in the state."

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