To Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Scribner and Board of Trustees: Protect All Students By Adopting Religious Student GuidelinesRead the petition
|1||Kathy B.||Aug 24, 2016|
|1||Kathy B.||Aug 24, 2016|
Fort Worth, TX – This is a victory for the rule of law, common sense, and the people who Stand for Fort Worth. We are grateful Superintendent Scribner reversed and repealed his illegal transgender directive. The new guidelines merely restate existing District practices. Stand for Fort Worth mobilized a bipartisan, multi-racial coalition of students, taxpayers and parents who were initially excluded from the process but whose voices have now been heard. We are disappointed the Board of Trustees failed to hold Superintendent Scribner accountable. We look forward to preventing this abuse of authority in the future by electing new Trustees next May who will Stand for Fort Worth.
Fort Worth, TX – Stand for Fort Worth has reviewed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal opinion regarding Superintendent Kent Scribner’s transgender student guidelines. The Attorney General states, “Far from creating a partnership between parents, educators and administrators regarding their children’s education, the guidelines relegate parents to a subordinate status, receiving information only on a ‘need-to-know basis’.” The opinion goes on to say that actions required by Superintendent Scribner’s policy are “against state law and grounds for discipline under the Education Code.” On the matter of Superintendent Scribner’s self-proclaimed authority to issue the guidelines, the Attorney General states, “While a superintendent is authorized to recommend policies to be adopted by the Board, Chapter 11 of the Education Code, requires that policy decisions, like those addressing parental involvement with students’ gender identity choices, be addressed by the Board of Trustees prior to the development of any related administrative regulations.”
Zeb Pent, spokesman for Stand for Fort Worth, said, “The Attorney General confirmed what Fort Worth parents and taxpayers have been saying for nearly two months. Superintendent Scribner didn’t have the authority to write the transgender policy, and he doesn’t have the authority to revise the policy. Unfortunately, Fort Worth residents no longer trust Superintendent Scribner.”
Dear Mayor Price,
We are parents and pastors, taxpayers and teachers. We are young, old, Democrat, Republican, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Caucasian. We are not outsiders. We are your neighbors. And we are nearly 80% of Fort Worth residents.
We love Fort Worth – and for lots of different reasons. We love all people. We love the big city with a small town feel. We love the Cowboys and Culture. We love the diversity of our city. We love that this is Where the West Begins. We also love that we have businesses with slogans like “Life’s Too Short to Live in Dallas.”
We know you love Fort Worth, too. Most of us love you. Many of us voted for you. You have selflessly served our city and represented it so well with a bright smile and approachable personality. You have made our city better and for that we owe you a debt of gratitude.
You are aware of the firestorm that was created when, on April 26, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner announced his executive edict regarding transgender students without discussion or debate from parents or taxpayers. Fort Worth residents did not seek or provoke the battle that has since ensued. It was thrust upon us by a Superintendent who made an irresponsible decision affecting 86,000 students and all of their households.
We care about the safety and well-being of all students – including transgender students. We oppose this policy because it was adopted unilaterally by an unelected, unaccountable executive without public input or Board vote. And we oppose this policy because it compromises student safety, violates the parent-child relationship, and seeks to indoctrinate children in an agenda with which we disagree.
Unfortunately, since April 26, Superintendent Scribner has made more bad decisions that have isolated Fort Worth ISD as the only Texas school district out of nearly 1,270 to have adopted such an unlawful policy.
On May 8, he was given an opportunity to put out the fire when it was just a spark, and, as you know, he declined.
On May 9, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called for repeal of the policy and Superintendent Scribner’s resignation. Since the State of Texas provides 54% of Fort Worth ISD’s funding, we found it appropriate for the majority investor to address this situation. The Superintendent and other local officials ridiculed the State’s intervention and bit the hand that feeds them.
On May 10, in front of hundreds who had come to express outrage at a Board meeting, Superintendent Scribner defended his policy, devalued the opponents, and divided our City. He also said you sent a note of support. We scratched our heads about your note but carried on.
On May 13, President Obama issued his infamous transgender directive. He attempts to bully Fort Worth ISD into complying by threatening to withdraw 1% of the District’s funds. Even if the District rejected federal funds, it would still have $23 million more next year due to local property tax revenue increases.
On May 18, media reported you as saying, “Dr. Scribner has done a good job, and this school board simply has to keep him. Whether he was correct on this policy or not, I don’t know, and that’s not for me to judge.” We moved from head scratching to head shaking.
By that point, both U.S. Senators from Texas, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, the entire Republican State Senate Caucus, and almost every State Representative from Tarrant County had denounced the Obama directive or the Fort Worth policy. People at every level of government had judged whether the policy was correct, so we were very surprised to hear that you couldn’t.
On May 23, media reported Superintendent Scribner’s administration had deceptively changed the rules on public comment at Board meetings so as to exclude opposing voices from being heard. We were extremely disappointed to learn this. This isn’t the Fort Worth way.
On May 24, another Board meeting was held and filled with another crowd of outraged parents and taxpayers. Superintendent Scribner again missed an opportunity to quell the growing fire of outrage. This ignoring of the public will is not the Fort Worth way.
On May 25, the State of Texas and eleven other states filed suit against the United States to stop the Obama directive. We remind you the Fort Worth ISD policy is worse than even the Obama directive. Being the inspiration for twelve states to sue the United States is not the Fort Worth way.
On May 31, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asked the Attorney General for a legal opinion regarding the Fort Worth ISD transgender policy and whether Superintendent Scribner had the authority to unilaterally issue such a policy. Having the Attorney General investigate the legality of your actions is not the Fort Worth way.
On June 1, the Texas Education Agency confirmed it is investigating Superintendent Scribner. An agency investigation into our public servants is not the Fort Worth way.
Since May 6, Superintendent Scribner’s administration has denied open records requests asking for more information as to how these guidelines were formed and came into being. We are still waiting. This lack of transparency is not the Fort Worth way.
During the weeks of May 31 and June 6, six public forums were held. We did not see you at any of them. Perhaps you sent a representative. We hope you got the report. These public forums did much more harm to our city than good by creating more division. They did not reflect the Fort Worth way.
Before the public forums began, Board President Cinto Ramos, referring to the new policy, said to local media, “We don’t intend to change it.” The forums were never meant to seek parent or taxpayer input. They were designed to be a propaganda tour, as evidenced by the misleading Frequently Asked Questions distributed at each location. This is not the Fort Worth way.
We’ve now learned the transgender policy was written by a Dallas attorney. We know you don’t like Dallas folks coming over and meddling in Fort Worth affairs, so we know you understand when we say we don’t want a Dallas lawyer rewriting social norms for 86,000 Fort Worth children. This is not the Fort Worth way.
Superintendent Scribner now says he will appoint an advisory committee to make revisions to the transgender policy. He wants to fix a back room deal with another back room deal. But that reveals the heart of the issue. Most residents opposed to the policy do not trust Superintendent Scribner to appoint an impartial committee or to make sufficient revisions. And why should we trust him?
As we survey the past six weeks, we are disappointed and troubled. What began for Superintendent Scribner as a misguided policy adopted by an unlawful process has culminated in a pattern of bad decision-making that has broken the public’s trust. He has done permanent damage to Fort Worth. We had hoped he would transform our education system. He did – just not in the way we ever imagined. His future ability to effect change in our city will forever be tainted by how he has mishandled this matter and brought division to our city.
As of this writing, nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for the repeal of the transgender policy. We have heard from Board members who have received between 1,200 and 2,000 emails and on average 80% are calling for the repeal of the transgender policy. These voices are important, and they are being ignored.
These people are part of a growing legion of outraged Fort Worth residents – many people who are appalled Fort Worth was one of the first places this happened in the nation and not the last. These residents are organizing from the North Side to Morningside and from Stop 6 to South Hills.
Superintendent Scribner must repeal the policy, start the conversation that never happened, and then put a policy to a Board vote. Summer is a perfect time to do this because no students will be affected. If Superintendent Scribner does not pursue this path, Fort Worth residents will ensure this episode is not forgotten.
Our hope is that you will side with the majority of Fort Worth residents. Will you join us as we Stand for Fort Worth?
Fort Worth residents
Fort Worth, TX – On June 1, 2016, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) confirmed that it is investigating a formal complaint by Stand for Fort Worth alleging at least seven different violations of school law. The allegations include, among other things, a violation of the Open Meetings Act at the April 26, 2016 Fort Worth ISD Board meeting for failure to give notice of the subject of the meeting when Superintendent Kent Scribner imposed the new transgender policy by unilateral executive action. The complaint also alleges Superintendent Scribner violated Texas Education Code Section 11.201(d)(8) when he adopted the new transgender policy without Board approval. The Fort Worth ISD has described the new transgender policy as an “administrative regulation”. But the TEA complaint also alleges that even if the transgender policy is construed as an “administrative regulation,” FWISD BP(Local) policy states, “administrative regulations are subject to Board review.” Stand for Fort Worth possesses emails from at least one FWISD Board Trustee who said they did not review the transgender policy. Therefore, the policy is invalid. The complaint lists numerous other allegations including a violation of Texas Education Code Section 26 regarding parental rights.
Zeb Pent, spokesman for Stand for Fort Worth, said, “We understand Superintendent Scribner is new to town, but we assumed he had at least been briefed on Texas education law upon arriving. Superintendent Scribner’s belligerent defense of his unlawful transgender policy is wasting precious human and financial resources that instead should be dedicated to improving the 40% of Fort Worth ISD schools that are failing academically. We hope that any investigation and penalties imposed by the TEA will not harm students, parents and taxpayers more than what Superintendent Scribner has already done.”
Fort Worth, TX – Stand for Fort Worth supports the State of Texas and ten other states that have filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Education, Department of Justice, and Department of Labor in connection with President Obama’s transgender directive. Undoubtedly, this legal action by the State of Texas casts a dark cloud over the Fort Worth ISD transgender policy – a policy that nearly 80% of Fort Worth residents strongly object to. Fort Worth ISD is the only school district out of nearly 1,270 school districts in Texas that has adopted such a transgender policy, and Superintendent Kent Scribner is the only Texas superintendent who has deceived parents and taxpayers in adopting such a policy.
Zeb Pent, spokesman for Stand for Fort Worth, said, “Superintendent Scribner’s continued defense of his unlawful transgender policy is increasingly belligerent. With 40% of Fort Worth ISD schools failing, the majority of Fort Worth residents are wondering what Superintendent Scribner is hiding by denying open records requests and why he continues to waste human and financial resources on this indefensible policy. If he doesn’t have the humility to admit this policy was a mistake by repealing it immediately, then how can we trust him to educate our kids?”
Fort Worth, TX – In an effort to understand why Superintendent Kent Scribner unilaterally issued the new Fort Worth ISD transgender policy without parent or taxpayer input, Stand for Fort Worth submitted an open records request on May 6, 2016 to the Fort Worth ISD for “any and all correspondence, drafts, memorandum, and other written and telephonic communications regarding and relating to the new Transgender Student Guidelines by and between any Board Members, Staff, Administration, Outside Consultants or activist groups.” Stand for Fort Worth was disappointed – but not surprised – to recently receive a letter from the Fort Worth ISD refusing to provide any of the requested information and asking the Texas Attorney General to support the District’s position to withhold the information. This has quickly become standard operating procedure for Superintendent Scribner’s administration. While Fort Worth residents are asking tough questions of Superintendent Scribner, his administration continues to secretively hide its activities from public view.
Zeb Pent, spokesman for Stand for Fort Worth, said, “Fort Worth citizens deserve to know the truth. If Superintendent Scribner and Fort Worth ISD Board members have nothing to hide, then they should promptly turn over any and all information about this divisive policy. We have taken every effort as parents and taxpayers to find out why Superintendent Scribner created a mess in our community by imposing this unlawful transgender policy. And Superintendent Scribner’s administration has deceived, denied, and delayed at every turn in the process. Now, he is even obstructing the customary path for obtaining open records.”
Fort Worth, TX – Stand for Fort Worth is shocked and saddened to learn that Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner continues his pattern of secretive and potentially illegal decision making by rigging the public comment portion of the next FWISD Board meeting to prevent law-abiding citizens from speaking out against his unlawful transgender policy. Just yesterday a local newspaper carried a headline that “Four forums will let the public comment” on the new transgender policy. But now we know while Superintendent Scribner was traveling around town touting public forums, he was working behind the scenes to exclude parents and taxpayers from having a voice at a regularly scheduled Board meeting. This deceptive and duplicitous behavior has irreparably breached the public’s trust.
Zeb Pent, spokesman for Stand for Fort Worth, said, “First, Superintendent Scribner unilaterally issued a transgender policy in secret without public input. Then, Superintendent Scribner dismissed the public outcry by intentionally misrepresenting the substance of the policy at the May 10 Board meeting. Now, Superintendent Scribner has worked secretly to take away the voice of concerned parents and taxpayers. We simply don’t trust his leadership. He owes this community an apology.”
The new transgender student guidelines were not debated, discussed or voted on at any Board meetings. The Superintendent unilaterally issued an edict dictating serious and harmful policies affecting our community. The guidelines are mandatory for the 2015-2016 school year unless revised or revoked. They should be revoked immediately.
We have read the new transgender student guidelines. In short, the eight pages are an astonishing and shocking rebuttal to common sense, history, and science. Let’s start with this: “No medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment is required in order to have a student’s gender identity recognized and respected. School personnel must not question any student’s sincerely held belief.”
Under the section “Restrooms and Related Facilities,” boys who self-identify as girls may now use girls restrooms and “if other students feel uncomfortable sharing a restroom with a transgender student, the school must allow the student(s) access to a single stall restroom…the single user restroom, however, must not be given as the only option for transgender students.” Thus, if a teenage boy who says he’s a girl goes into the girls bathroom and the girls feel uncomfortable, all of the girls have to line up at the single stall restroom – not the boy. Moreover, the District now supports the participation of boys in girl athletic activities.
In the section “Student Transitions,” the implication is that parents cannot be trusted with such sensitive topics as helping their children change sexes: “Prior to notifying any parent…regarding the student’s gender identity or any potential transition process, school personnel must work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent…has been or will be involved in the process.” Will be? This is an affront to parents everywhere. You send Johnny to school one morning only to receive Joanie at the end of the day?
The section “Creating a Supportive Environment” instructs school personnel to eliminate “arbitrary gender dividers” such as “boys and girls” and replace them with “students and scholars.” And this gentle exhortation to teachers: “Start the day with inclusive language, and stick with it.”
It is astounding that a school district that, by its own admission, does not have enough students passing math and reading tests, would waste resources on guidelines like these and the ensuing storm they will produce. We would prefer the Superintendent start the day by helping boys and girls learn how to read and do math, and stick with it.