JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown School Board received its final presentation regarding transgender student policy during its board meeting at Lincoln School on Tuesday night.
Following up on a presentation last month about challenges transgender students face, outgoing superintendent Tim Mains took time to present the legal implications of transgender policy for students, including discussing a recent case that is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a transgender student in Virginia, who’s challenging his school district’s decision to not provide equal rights for transgender students, as it pertains to federal Title IX law. Mains also discussed implications of current policy already being used in other districts in New York State, along with proposed policies.
Following the presentation, he said regardless of what happens in the courts, the Jamestown School Board should move forward at some point in implement its own policy for its transgender students.
“We already have transgender students that are identifying as transgender at the high school, and it’s likely that we are going to have more students coming forward,” Mains said. “We could have students in our elementary schools and middle schools. So before the number increases, I think it’s important for everyone to know that there is an appropriate way to support those students, and a policy will help us do that.”
Jamestown School Board president Paul Abbott said that he would like to see what happens in the courts, prior to finalizing and approving any type of policy for the district’s trans students.
“The first step to developing any intelligent policy is gathering as much information as you can,” Abbott said. “Certainly we are going to look to the courts and what decisions they render as far as this goes, and we’ll sort of use that for guidance, as Mr. Mains suggested.”
Abbott added that despite any court ruling in favor of our against required transgender policy, the district may still proceed with one of their own.
“We certainly have to comply with anything the courts require us to do legally, but as is the case with any state or municipality, you can afford rights that go beyond what you are required to provide,” he said.
Abbott also said that he doesn’t have timeline in place for when such a policy may be enacted by the school board.
“I don’t think it would be wise to set a hard deadline on it. If it happens by [the start of the new school year], that’s great, but I’m more concerned with having an intelligent policy that’s in compliance, rather than stumbling out with something because we felt like we had to reach a certain date,” the board president explained.
MAINS’ FINAL BOARD MEETING
Last night was also Tim Mains final school board meeting at Jamestown. Last month it was announced he would be leaving the district at the end of this month to take a new superintendents job on the other side of the state at the Pine Bush School District, located just west of Newburgh, NY.
During last night’s meeting, Abbott and the school board thanked Mains for his three-plus years of service, unveiling Mains’ portrait that will be on display in the school administration building, as well as holding a held small reception for him following the meeting.
Abbott also discussed how the district plans to proceed with finding a new superintendent, saying that the board is currently working to identify a consultant to assist with the process, and more should be known about how it will play out during the next couple months. In the meantime the district has hired Sylvia Root to serve as interim superintendent.
WRFA will focus more on the transgender policy discussion, as well as Main’s departure from the district, during our Community Matters program on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m.