School board clarifies SB150 related policies after parent concern

Published 12:30 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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The Jessamine County School Board cleared the air on Monday after parents attended the meeting expecting to defend Senate Bill 150.

According to School Board Chair Steven Scrivner, social media discourse claimed that the Board was doing something nefarious against Senate Bill 150 when the opposite was true – the Board is complying with state law because they have to.

The bill, as found on the Kentucky General Assembly website states: “Create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to establish definitions; require specific parental notifications from public schools; require school districts to adopt specific procedures related to parental rights; limit authority of the Kentucky Board of Education and Kentucky Department of Education in relation to parental rights and a student’s use of pronouns; prohibit district or school policies with the intent of keeping student information confidential for parents; prohibit a school district from requiring school personnel or pupils to use pronouns for students that do not conform to that student’s biological sex; provide school districts and district personnel authority to seek emergency medical services for a student; provide conditions for student confidentiality; amend KRS 158.1415 to establish requirements for any public school’s course, curriculum, or program on the subject of human sexuality.”

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The Board had its first readings on several district-wide policies during the meeting. Many of these policies are mandated to change to follow wording per the legislation passed in the last few months. These policies include student privacy, board policies, board procedures, code of conduct and the private safety emergency handbook. Once these have second readings, they will be finalized for the upcoming school year.

Within the student privacy handbook is one proposed policy 09.141. This is the language of said policy:

“KRS 158.189 requires the Board, after allowing public comment at an open meeting, to adopt this policy (09.141), necessary to protect the privacy rights for students, that at a minimum, does not allow students to use restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms that are reserved for students of a different biological sex. A student who asserts to school officials that his or her gender is different from his or her biological sex and whose parent or legal guardian provides written consent to school officials shall be provided with the best available accommodation, but that accommodation shall not include the use of school restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex while students of the opposite biological sex are present or could be present. Acceptable accommodations may include but are not limited to access or single-stall restrooms or controlled use of faculty bathrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms.”

Superintendent Matt Moore spoke up to explain the misunderstanding amongst some community members and read the above policy to the public.

“This is the wording that is being proposed to the Board tonight for their approval for our policy, and it’s the exact language that you’ll see in the Kentucky Revised Statutes,”  Moore said. “As far as that changing our practice in Jessamine County, this doesn’t change our practice in any way whatsoever.”

Scrivner followed Moore’s statement and said, “State law is catching up with the practice that we already had…We were already addressing the matter the way the state law is written.”

Meeting attendees still spoke up on the matter during the time for public comment.

“I guess my only comment is it’s the correct decision, it upholds truth, and it protects students, so well done,” Don Richardson said.

A family doctor, Tom O’Neil, also walked up to the stand to address the Board in support of the bill.

“I ask that the school board not compromise at all in the face of opposition, which I know will come, and just to stand strong. These are days in which many people lack courage and lacking conviction, and I want to say that I read through that bill, not carefully but superficially. I agree with the definitions, I agree with the policy, and I feel like it’s consistent with common sense, with rationality and basically with medical science,” O’Neil said.

In other news, the Board approved several donations, including:

• $11,957.27 to Warner Elementary from the Warner Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).

• $2,500 to support biodiversity at West Jessamine High School from EarthEcho.

• $1,500 to support the East Jessamine High School tennis team from the Walmart Local Community Grant.

• $72,611.07 to Jessamine County Adult Education from the Kentucky Office for Refugees, specifically to support Ukrainian refugees.