Dear ISBA Members –
Like you, our staff is receiving numerous inquiries and angry emails regarding a national article on ISBA’s Model policy 3281. We know many of you also navigated public records requests on this topic, which were used in the same article. Our number one priority is that our members know that we hear your concern, and we share it, too. We want to be loud and clear: a core value of ISBA is that parents should be involved in every single step of their child’s educational experience.
In Idaho – and, across the country – schools are navigating these delicate waters in everchanging environments. The guidance about disclosure to parents that is heavily – and rightfully – criticized in the media is based on court decisions based upon the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution. While as a society we don’t always personally or philosophically agree on laws or a courts interpretation of them, we have always believed that a critical piece of our job is to help public school boards in Idaho follow the laws that are in place.
Next week, a bill is set to be introduced in the Idaho Senate that will provide state statutory language on these topics – something that the ISBA believes is a critical next step so that there is more clarity to public schools in navigating LGBT issues. Once it is given a bill number, we will make sure our members know so they can communicate it back to their patrons. Assuming it makes it through the legislative process, we will immediately update our members on the changes upon the conclusion of the session.
In the meantime, we also recognize that many of these policies pre-date the current trustees, board members, or administrators. Like all policies, it is always encouraged for boards to review your policies, take community input, and determine whether it is the right fit for your school district or charter school. That applies to all policies your school or district has, including those on sensitive topics. There is no state or federal law that requires a policy like 3281. Contrary to the article in question, it has not been messaged by ISBA as such, rather it serves as a framework based on the best legal advice and guidance at the time.
We ask for your patience and for your trust. We are available to take your calls, texts, and emails of concern. We strive to have an open-door policy when it comes to serving the needs of our members. The Executive Board and Staff want your confidence that we are helping you through your service as a school board member. While we know that these hot-topic issues tend to rise to the top, we hope that we can move past the media attention and can continue to provide you the best service possible as your association.