Colts Neck and Howell reject Murphy’s trans policy in NJ schools
📄 Two additional school districts have rejected Murphy's guidance on trans policy
📄 More school districts are expected to do the same
📄 Murphy's attorney general is pressuring districts to leave the policy alone
Following the revelation that the state's transgender policy for school students was guidance and not mandate, another New Jersey district has voted to scrap that policy entirely.
The Colts Neck Board of Education formally rejected the policy known as Policy 5756.
Guidance from Gov. Phil Murphy's administration put in place safeguards for students who have changed their gender identity and directed schools to respect those changes. However, it also includes a provision that prevents the school from informing parents of the change in gender identity, regardless of a student's age or grade level.
It is that provision regarding parental notification that has caused the biggest controversy.
Board members called 5756 "superfluous," and stressed that all other district laws, policies and regulations remain in effect to ensure enforcement of non-discriminatory practices.
The Howell Township Board of Education also debated Policy 5756 last night.
Superintendent Joseph Isola had voiced support for keeping the policy in place and board members had previously decided against any changes.
Last night, however, amid passionate pleas from parents and other members of the pubic during the public, the board ultimately voted to reject the guidance from the Murphy administration regarding transgender students.
However, the policy remains in place, for now. After a committee review, the board is required to take a second, and final, vote.
In August, Isola urged the board to keep current policies in place.
"We have a commitment to making sure students are able to enter a school community that is safe," Isola said, "So that they can present for learning and we can provide an opportunity for them to reach their dreams and everything they aspire to be."
Isola argued the policy was a matter of student safety, and "student will always come first," but he also decried the weponization of this issue for political agendas.
"As a school leader, it is sometimes frustrating that schools and school districts become the battle ground for political war," Isola said.
More districts are likely to follow
Hanover Township was the first district to repeal Policy 5756. Hanover was sued by the state for first modifying the policy. It was during a court hearing on that suit that Deputy Attorney General James Michael conceded the ban on parental notification was only "guidance" and not "mandatory."
The Hanover Township School Board voted to repeal what is known as Policy 5756 in its entirety.
School board member Gregory Skiff was incredulous about what he said was "a widespread effort to misrepresent to school districts statewide that 5756 was mandatory" when it simply was not.
Following what she called a "bombshell revelation," Middletown School Board vice president Jacqueline Tobacco said she expected as many as 20 additional school districts to scrap 5756.
Murphy keeps the pressure on
After Hanover Township rejected the state policy on transgender students, New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin pressed ahead with the original lawsuit.
In addition, Platkin is asking a judge to force Hanover to pay the state's legal costs. The judge has not ruled on that issue.
Some have called the action by the Murphy administration a strong-armed tactic aimed at discouraging districts from making any changes or rejecting the controversial policy.
Facing the potential of crippling legal fees to defend their actions, school boards could be resistant to taking any action that could have an adverse impact on taxpayers.
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