Following the long-awaited release of the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) Model Policies to Ensure Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools, local school divisions are digging-in their heels.
While VDOE policies rightfully focus on parents as the primary educators and legal custodians of their children’s best interests— and of their physical and mental well-being—spokespersons from Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) and Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) appear to differ with that position.
In a media release email, Beth Cheuk, Supervisor of Community Relations for CCS emphasized the Division’s broad opposition to Governor Youngkin’s “draft proposals” as announced last year and implied that such opposition likely would continue:
We are aware of the Governor’s announcement that he is finalizing VDOE guidance for the treatment of students who identify as transgender or nonbinary. We have not yet had time to review his final recommendations and will do so in the coming weeks. Across the state, his draft proposals were broadly opposed when first announced a year ago.
Our board made a statement in response to this draft guidance when it was first announced in October 2022. Find the link here: School Board Statement in Support of Transgender and Non-Binary Students | Charlottesville City Schools (charlottesvilleschools.org)
Without a deep reading of the governor’s policies, we can’t comment on specifics. But we can affirm that we will continue to partner with families and we will continue to fully support our LGBTQ students, staff, and families.
Beth L. Cheuk (she/her)
Supervisor of Community Relations
Charlottesville City Schools
Cheuk’s ACPS counterpart, Phil Giaramita, did not release a written statement, but in an extensive telephone interview with WINA radio’s Jay Hart, Giaramita indicated that his Division’s strategy would include purposefully slow deliberation (i.e. running-out the clock):
“…the one thing about the new model policy I’ll point out, too, is that it had an effective date of Tuesday when it was promulgated, but there’s no implementation date, there’s no provision in the model policy that says all school divisions must apply by a date certain. So there’s plenty of opportunity for school divisions to think deeply about this and to and to take to discuss this to review all aspects of this policy and determined, determine what their what how their, what their next steps are going to be. So, there’s no sense of urgency about this…” [emphasis added]
Given the tenor of both Albemarle and Charlottesville Schools’ responses, it seems certain that the philosophically aligned divisions will openly or covertly defy the VDOE’s model policies. In addition, legal challenges likely will follow as ACPS and CCS appear hell-bent on staying the course.