Edmonds School District adopts new Transgender Student policy; elementary school transfers limited due to capacity issues

Edmonds School DistrictThe Edmonds School District Board of Directors unanimously passed a new policy for Transgender Students at Tuesday’s Board meeting.

The policy is based on model policies from the Washington State School Directors’ Association with a few minor changes.

Some of the highlights of the policy are:

-Transgender is a general term often used to describe a person whose gender identity and/or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s gender assigned at birth.”
-An appropriate school employee will privately ask known transgender or gender nonconforming students how they would like to be addressed in class, in correspondence to the home, and at conferences with the student’s parent/guardian.
-Students will be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender identity they assert at school. No student will be required to use a restroom that conflicts with his or her gender identity.
-Use of locker rooms by transgender or gender nonconforming students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the goal of maximizing transgender or gender nonconforming student social integration, providing an equal opportunity to participate in physical education classes and athletic opportunities and ensuring the student’s safety. In most cases, the District should provide the student access to the locker room that corresponds to the gender identity they assert at school.
-The District will provide all students, including transgender or gender nonconforming students, the opportunity to participate in physical education and athletic programs/opportunities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity.

The new policy can be found here.

During an earlier public comment period, two individuals spoke out in support of the Board adopting the new Transgender Student Policy.

Director Ann McMurray said she was glad to vote in support of the new policy because it gives the District a way to respond to a student and their family about a private matter.

“We have a way to be able to address how we are going to handle things,” McMurray said.

The District currently does not have many transgender students.

“It was good to know that each request is being vetted on a case-by-case basis,” McMurray said. “What is going to work for this student?”

In other news:

– Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Justin Irish told the Board that the District no longer will be permitting elementary school transfers because of capacity issues.

“We don’t have room,” Irish said.

In the past, the District has had a liberal policy in allowing elementary school transfers. Now families will have to meet certain criteria in order for a student to transfer.

Irish said in those schools that have extra space, that space needs to be available for overloads from other schools that have reached capacity. The majority of elementary schools have reached capacity.

The other change is that decision on transfers will be made on June 1 rather than on the fourth-day count.

The policy does not apply to Madrona K-8, Maplewood K-8 or Edmonds Heights K-12.

– The tuition rate for full-time kindergarten for 2015-16 will remain the same as this year. The District had proposed an increase but the Board voted 4-1 to keep the rate the same. Director April Nowak was the dissenting vote.

Irish told the Board that the District was contemplating a $12-per-month increase in tuition to cover increased staffing costs. Irish noted that the District’s current rate of $3,600 already is the highest in the area. Other districts charge from $174 to $1,000 less than the Edmonds District. Board members were concerned about the message an increase in rates would send to the public, especially given that Edmonds District rates are the highest.

Irish also noted that the rate takes into account the costs of five spaces for low-income students, whose tuition expense is shared by the families who are paying. In a class of 23, there would be 18 paid slots and five reserved for low-income students. McMurray wondered why the other parents are subsidizing the costs and asked about the District possibly picking up the costs.

– The Board unanimously approved a purchase-and-sale agreement with Devco, Inc. for the property commonly known as Melody Hills in Mountlake Terrace. District staff said that Devco is known for building affordable housing units.

– The Board unanimously approved architecture agreements with Integrus Architecture for Alderwood Middle School and the new Maintenance and Transportation Facility, and with Mahlum Architects for Lynndale Elementary School.

– The Board unanimously approved a new sound system for Edmonds District Stadium with the goal of installation by the spring of 2015.

– The Board formally recognized outgoing Pacific Little League President Doug Sheldon and his wife Carol, Edmonds-Woodway girls swim coach Kate Trettevik (who was named the Class 3A State Coach of the Year) and Edmonds-Woodway coaches Bill LeCompte and Carly MacKay and the Warriors girls soccer team, which won the 3A state title.

– By David Pan

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