Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Madison County Nondiscrimination Statement Draws Questions

School board splits 3-2 on policy updates
This from the Richmond Register:
The Madison County School Board approved 3-2 Thursday night the first reading of board policy updates for 2013-14.

Board members will have 30 days to look over the updates and report any questions or concerns they have before second reading...

Board member John Lackey...questioned a few policy edits. “There’s recently been this dust up about the Boy Scouts and the gays. I see that they (Boy Scouts) are being given a special privilege in there on the first page … it looks to me like its a special discrimination as a result of this recent problem the Boys Scouts are having with some of the churches sponsoring their troops. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
“I see no real point in giving special favor to that group ... it’s just like all youth groups,” he said.

Lackey was referring to a segment of the district’s “notice of non-discrimination” that states: “...and provides equal access to its facilities to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.”

Assistant superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub said the district had a pre-approved notice of non-discrimination through the federal Office for Civil Rights. Early this spring, Hub said a state group visited the district to monitor how well it was complying with civil rights and workplace accommodation requirements.

“At that time, it was recommended by the state that we use the Boy Scouts’ included notice of non-discrimination,” Hub said.

The district’s leadership team initially thought it was appropriate to just use the federally approved notice of non-discrimination. But later, the new notice (that includes the Boy Scouts) was approved and recommended by the Kentucky School Board Association, so the team decided to go with the recommendation, Hub said.

“(KSBA) is not sending it out to 172 districts if they don’t think it’s right,” he said.

Floyd said the district will send a list of the board’s questions and concerns to the KSBA.

Board member Beth Brock asked if board members had not come to a conclusion about certain policies by the next meeting, would they be obligated to approve the manual, or could it have more time.

Floyd said the board would have to move forward with the non-discrimination statement for it to be included in the new district handbooks, but inserts could be distributed later, he said.

“The schools operate under the umbrella of your policies and procedures,” Floyd said. “We can make it work, and we want you to be comfortable with what you approve. The first reading tonight only starts the ball rolling.”

Board member Becky Coyle, board chair Mona Isaacs and Brock all voted to approve the first reading of the policy manual, but Lackey and Renfro did not.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Renfro said. “I think we need to look at it more.” “Well, we’ve got 30 days,” Coyle replied.

“It scares me,' Renfro said. “There’s a lot of stuff here.”
KSBA spokesman Brad Hughes explained to KSN&C that Congress specifically intervened on this matter in 2002 when The Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act was incorporated into No Child Left Behind. The Act,
"applies to public elementary and secondary schools...that receive Federal funds made available through the Department of Education. Under the Boy Scouts Act...no such public school...that provides an opportunity for one or more outside youth or community groups to meet on school premises or in school facilities shall deny equal access or a fair opportunity to meet to, or discriminate against, any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, or any other youth group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society, that wishes to meet at the school."
Schools are required to submit to the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights an assurance that they will comply with the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. 7905, 34 C.F.R. Part 108...thus, the specific reference.

One assumes the Madison County Board of Education might have also specifically listed other organizations listed under Title 36 such as The American Academy of Arts & Letters, American Gold Star Mothers, Blue Star Mothers of America, The American Legion, The American Society of International Law, AMVETS, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, The Board for Fundamental Education, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America, The Civil Air Patrol, Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States of America, Former Members of Congress, Fredrick Douglass Memorial and Historical Society, Future Farmers of America, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Girls Scouts of the United States of America, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Little League Baseball, National Education Association of the United States, and several more. But they didn't; not even the Girl Scouts. But if the Vietnam Veterans of America want to hold a meeting in the Madison County Schools - you're in.

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