Crane R-III parents concerned over federal Title IX rules and policy changes
The Crane R-III Board of Education will hear from a concerned parent concerning policies the school has enacted to meet Title IX requirements.
Feb. 21, 2021 Shana Harter The Crane R-III school board will hear from a concerned parent regarding policy changes the school has implemented to adhere to federal Title IX law at the Feb. 17 board meeting. The policy changes at the center of discussion revolve around gender-specific and gender-neutral restrooms at Crane R-III. The concerned parent who wishes to remain unnamed at this time said they called the school a few weeks ago to inquire about how recent executive orders would affect the local school district. The parent says that the school informed them that Crane already has a policy related to transgender students and bathrooms in its buildings. The parent says they were told the school has a transgender student using the bathroom for the sex they identify with - the boys’ restroom.
The parent feels the district should have made everyone aware of this. Crane Superintendent Dr. Chris Johnson said, “This isn’t something you just send out notices on. Students have privacy rights.”
The Crane R-III handbook states that this policy was updated in October 2020 and approved in November 2020, after the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.Even though the school may not have been able to inform parents about the transgender student,parents are complaining that the school never told them of the policy change.
Members of the community say that parents are informed about other policy changes via email, Facebook, and Class Dojo. Still, in this case, nothing was ever said at all, which has left some parents wondering why the school did not handle this policy change in the same manner. There are no school board minutes posted on the school website for October orNovember. The Stone County Republican/Crane Chronicle has requested a copy of those minutes, but the school has not been in session since that request due to the winter storm.
Crane R-III parent, Bobby Dykes, weighed in about the policy change, “Maybe they thought they were keeping from creating a big blow up, but I think by putting it off and it getting out as it did, it’s just making a worse situation than if they had just been upfront from day one.”
In an interview last week, Dr. Johnson said that the policy in place adheres to Title IX federal law. Johnson said that the school has no choice but to implement rules that follow Title IX law. “If you don’t meet Title IX requirements, a couple of things can happen: you lose federal funding; without federal funding, we cannot keep our doors open and two, that puts the school district where we are liable to be sued, and that’s a case we would not win.” Johnson added, “Mulitple cases have gone to court in 2020 where parents sued school districts that allowed students to use the restrooms or locker rooms of their choice and they lost every time.” According to Johnson, there is a single-stall gender-neutral bathroom that any student may use. Any student who is uncomfortable may use this restroom; however, it is considered discrimination to single out any student based on gender and require them to use that bathroom. When asked about the rumor that other area schools do require transgender students to use a separate restroom, Johnson said, “I can’t address what other schools are doing. I can tell you if they do and are doing that, it’s fine until they get their first lawsuit.” Johnson went on to say, “Part of my job as superintendent is to make sure that we’re using the funds that we are trusted with by the community in a manner that isn’t wasteful. If we were sued, I just used funds that we need to put in on educating our students and feeding our students, and doing what’s right by our students and community. I would have to funnel those funds into that lawsuit now, and it would be costly.”
Johnson encouraged everyone to attend board meetings. “If you have a concern based on an individual student or faculty member, please follow proper channels and chain of command. Talk to the teacher, the principal, and then myself,’ said Johnson. Problems concerning a specific student or teacher are not allowed in open board meetings. Board meetings are open to the public. To speak at a meeting, interested persons must pick up a form at either school’s office or the superintendent’s office, fill it out and return it at least seven days before the meeting. At this time, one parent has signed up to speak on the issue at Feb. 17 meeting.
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