The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board heard approximately three hours of public comments at its last meeting held at Hart High School regarding a possible parental notification policy.
So, what’s next?
According to board member Cherise Moore, who represents Trustee Area No. 3, existing policies must be reviewed before any further discussion is held on the topic. Once that review has been completed and presented to the board, additional policy can then be drafted, if needed.
“I asked at the end of the last meeting that a committee to review existing policies be created before any consideration for a parent notification policy,” Moore wrote in a text message to The Signal. “It hasn’t been created yet, but hopefully will be at the next board meeting.”
The next Hart district governing board meeting is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. The agenda for that meeting, posted to the district’s website on Friday, calls for the governing board to establish an ad hoc committee to “review existing district policies regarding parent engagement and involvement matters.”
The committee, per the agenda, would consist of two governing board members. The student board member would also be invited to participate. The agenda also notes that other school districts across the state have adopted policies regarding parent notification that “have been very contentious and have resulted in litigation.”
The Chino Valley Unified School District was one of the first to adopt such a policy, and the district was subsequently met with a lawsuit from the office of state Attorney General Rob Bonta.
“The goal of this committee will be to consider existing district policies and potentially propose modifications to existing district policies and/or to propose new district policies and to report their recommendations to the board,” the agenda reads.
Board member Joe Messina, who represents Trustee Area No. 5, offered at the end of the last meeting to spearhead the review of existing policies, along with Moore, as they are “perceived as being on different sides of the aisle.”
Should he find that existing policies do not cover the type of parental notification that Messina would like to see, he said he would fight for additional policy, which he said in a phone interview with The Signal on Thursday he would like to see on the agenda in January, if needed.
“I think a parent has the right to be notified over everything,” Messina said.
Calls to other Hart district board members were not immediately returned.
At the last meeting, multiple speakers during the public comments session referenced policies that other districts have adopted. The fear that students brought up is that district staff would be forced to tell parents if their child comes out as LGBTQ.
According to Regulation 5125 of the Hart district’s Board Policy Manual, “absolute access to any student records shall be granted to: parents/guardians of students younger than age 18 years, including the parent who is not the student’s custodial parent; an adult student, or a student under the age of 18 years who attends a postsecondary institution, in which case the student alone shall exercise rights related to his/her student records and grant consent for the release of records; parents/guardians of an adult student with disabilities who is age 18 years or older and has been declared incompetent under state law.”
The regulation goes on to state that the legal names and genders of students cannot be changed without parental or guardian consent.
“However, at the written request of a student or, if appropriate, his/her parents/guardians,” the regulation reads, “the district shall use the student’s preferred name and pronouns consistent with his/her gender identity on all other district-related documents.”
An argument that parents brought up at the last meeting for a policy to be implemented is that some have heard of staff at other districts administering transgender hormone therapy drugs to students or assisting students with transitioning genders without receiving consent from parents.
District officials have said hormone therapy drugs are not being — and have not been — administered at school sites. Regulation 5141.21 in the policy manual states that prescribed medication cannot be administered to students without a written statement from the student’s physician that includes: “clear identification of the student; the name of the medication; the method, amount, and time schedules by which the medication is to be taken; if a parent/guardian has requested that his/her child be allowed to self-administer medication, confirmation that the student is able to self-administer the medication.”
According to Emily Skelton, owner and clinical director of The Artful Healing Center, “a mental health practice dedicated to providing inclusive, affirming, and creative counseling,” students are not receiving hormone therapy at school without consent from a parent or guardian.