Friday, May 24th

More Questions About Fifth Grade Gender Curriculum at 5-6 Board Meeting

genderdysphoriaWhile the highlight of the Board of Education Meetings on Monday May 6th, may have been the celebration of 24 Scarsdale faculty members being awarded tenure, the Business Meeting directly following that celebration was full of updates, reminders, and public comments.

After weeks of long Public Comment periods with community members giving voice to their thoughts about the proposed school budget, Colby Mulvey was the only one to take the podium at Monday’s meeting. In a prepared statement, Mulvey shared:

I wanted to speak today about the district and parents being, “In Partnership”, as we read so often in our emails.

I believe it to be vital to our school community that parents of students truly feel like we are in a trusting partnership with teachers and school administrators. But, with the recent discussions regarding the new 5th grade gender curriculum, I have learned of things that have eroded that trust.

I personally feel that 5th grade is too young to introduce gender in school. It is a very complex and nuanced topic. I would have rathered that the district have spoken to parents and guardians directly and encouraged the families to speak to their own children to deliver the messages at a time and in a way that parents felt was appropriate to their children. But leaving that aside….

In seeking to understand more about the new addition to the curriculum, I learned that the district is choosing to follow a specific guidance from New York State on students expressing gender dysphoria. I emphasize guidance, as it is NOT A NYS MANDATE.

This guidance suggests that the district withhold information from parents if their child expressed questions about their gender. In short, the school is willing to socially transition a child and keep it a secret from the parents. This does not feel like a partnership. In comparison, would a teacher withhold a bad grade from parents at the student’s request? I would expect not. Arguably, a child in distress about their gender is much more important for parents to know about versus a bad grade.

The district is also arbitrarily implementing this guidance. For example, I am told the school will QUOTE “work directly with families of students who describe gender dysphoria” END QUOTE if those students are in the 5th grade. So there is a choice to NOT follow the NYS guidance in this instance… but in other grade levels the district WILL be following the guidance?? It seems very incohesive.

The new curriculum for the 5th grade has apparently been developed with the input of an organization called Center Lane. Center Lane states on its website that QUOTE “LGBTQIA+ youth are one of the few marginalized communities not raised by their own people” END QUOTE. This sentiment strikes me as very anti-family and as a parent, I find it insulting. I have concerns how guidance which flows from this type of belief fosters a partnership between parents and Scarsdale Schools.

True PARTNERSHIP relies on trust. The idea that the school is prepared to withhold vital and essential information about our kids and their mental well being breaks this trust in fundamental ways.

Thank you.

After listening to her statement, Dr. Drew Patrick said he would be happy to arrange a meeting with Ms. Mulvey to further discuss her concerns.

Board of Education President, Ron Schulhof began the Business Meeting by extending a congratulations to all those who earned tenure earlier in the evening. Schulhof then described a meeting the BOE had with Scarsdale High School student representatives. In the meeting Schulhof said they discussed four topics including: The Rolling Gradebook, The Students’ Sense of Belonging and Wellbeing, Cell Phones, and Civil Discourse (a student-led initiative). Schulhof praised the student representatives for their thoughtfulness and encouraged all students to reach out to the BOE with their questions and concerns noting it is important for them to have students’ perspective and feedback.

Schulhof also made note that the BOE, and members of the administration, have been attending many events around the district to disseminate information about the proposed budget and the upcoming vote on May 21st. Schulhof reminded those in attendance that voting will be held at Scarsdale Middle School gym from 7am to 9pm and parking will be made available in the lower circle.

Before handing things over to Superintendent Dr. Drew Patrick, Schulhof announced that the New York State Budget Aid has been officially restored and thanked representatives like Amy Paulin for tirelessly advocating on behalf of our district.

In addition to sharing several highlights from happenings at each of our schools, Dr. Patrick called attention to a number of special dates in May:

-May 1st Principal’s Day
-May 5th Holocaust Remembrance Day
-May 7th Teacher Appreciation Day
-May 8th National Nurses Day
-May 5th-11th Public Service Recognition Week
-May 12th Mother’s Day
-May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Dr. Patrick shared his appreciation and gratitude for all of our district’s hardworking and dedicated principals and assistant principals, teachers, nurses, and public servants such as the members of the BOE.

Auditorium Bids

In his cabinet update, Mr. Andrew Lennon announced that the bid for the Auditorium Project has been published and he hopes to get approval by May 23rd. He also said that the committee has started to select materials for the project and some of those items are on display outside of the auditorium at the high school.

Field Study

Lennon also announced that the Field Study is currently underway and that physical locations have been visited and that a community forum will be held on May 23rd at 7pm at the Village Hall to update the community and to provide an opportunity for questions and feedback.

District Safety

Another notable announcement from the meeting included an update from Dr. Patrick about the district’s Safety and Emergency Management Plan. Patrick informed those present that an updated annual plan will be adopted on June 10th. Discussions of changes to the current plan include new swatting and elopement policies. He also described that there is a 30 day comment period before the June 10th adoption and encouraged our community to provide their feedback.

What exactly is “swatting” and “elopement?” Assistant Superintendent Eric Rauschenbach explained,

Swatting: calling Districts with the intent to cause panic by reporting ongoing violence and/or a plan for such.

Elopement: Student running away from the school.

The State has required these be elevated to annexes in the plan (emergency specific procedures) because of the rise in the swatting incidents across NYS over the past 3-4 years. We have had processes for dealing with this type of incident since its increase but this just formalizes the procedure. Elopement was added as well to formalize how the District would respond if a child were to run away. Again this is a situation which our schools have discussed and trained around for a long time.

To be clear the actual annexes are additions to the Building Emergency Plans not additions to the public facing plan (except for the listing of their existence). All of our emergency annexes contain specific procedures that are kept confidential.”

To watch the meeting in its entirety and to learn about items such as the BOE’s Leadership Succession Plan, their Self-Evaluation Process, and the Superintendent’s Evaluation Process, please see here (https://vimeopro.com/scarsdaleschoolstv/boe2324)

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