Teachers’ Union Files Complaint Against California School District Over Transgender Student Policy

Teachers’ Union Files Complaint Against California School District Over Transgender Student Policy

Hundreds of parents and students gathered in front of the Chino Valley Unified School District to protest California's decision to keep mask mandate at K-12 schools on Feb. 15, 2022. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

8/11/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The Chino Valley Unified’s teachers’ union has filed an employment complaint against the district after it approved two controversial policies—including one that requires teachers to notify parents when their child identifies as transgender—this summer.
Associated Chino Teachers filed the complaint with the California Public Employment Relations Board Aug. 8, alleging that the district violated its contract with the union by failing to negotiate with it before enacting both policies.
The union wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The board approved a policy in July requiring schools to notify parents in writing within three days if their child identifies as transgender, is involved in violence, or shares thoughts of suicide.
The decision came a month after the board voted to restrict the display of flags in classrooms to only the U.S. and California flags.
The complaint also alleges that the flag policy bans speech protected under the union’s contract.
Union President Brenda Walker said the board’s actions are dividing the community.
“Unfortunately, our board is creating headlines by focusing on things that don’t benefit students and that divide our community,” Ms. Walker said in a statement on the day the complaint was filed. “We are working to have [the board] rescind these harmful and divisive policies and to join us instead in focusing on things our union is fighting for, such as better support systems for special education students and recruiting and retaining quality educators for our community.”
The union president added that the board’s “extreme views” would likely be unattractive to new teachers.
“Chino has already been struggling to attract teachers; the extreme views being imposed on the district and unfavorable publicity the board is garnering will only make it more difficult,” Ms. Walker said.
The complaint also comes after the union recently sent an email to their members saying they believe the new board policy could violate state student privacy laws.
“[Associated Chino Teachers] believes that the district must follow the California Department of Education’s guidance and protect student privacy rights,” Ms. Walker said in the email obtained by The Epoch Times.
In the email, she cited California Education Department guidance: “Disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s antidiscrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”
The email instructs members that if they are faced with such a situation, they should reach out to their administrators for guidance and provides an email template to do so.
It also references a July 20 letter from state California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who cited the same state education department guidance and advised the district to not enact the policy.
A few weeks later, in August, Mr. Bonta announced he was initiating a civil rights investigation into the school district to determine whether the policy violates state privacy laws.
Chino Valley Unified School Board President Sonja Shaw speaks in support of a parental rights policy proposal at a press conference in Chino, Calif., on June 15, 2023. (California Family Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Chino Valley Unified School Board President Sonja Shaw speaks in support of a parental rights policy proposal at a press conference in Chino, Calif., on June 15, 2023. (California Family Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Board president Sonja Shaw, who introduced the policy in question, said she believes that schools shouldn’t withhold information from parents “in any context.”
She previously told The Epoch Times that she thought state officials were overstepping boundaries and called Mr. Bonta’s investigation a “ploy to try to scare all other boards across California” from adopting similar policies.
The district’s policy is based on Assembly Bill 1314, which was introduced by California Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) in April but failed to get past an Assembly committee.
Earlier this month, Mr. Essayli questioned the legality of Mr. Bonta’s pursuit of an investigation into the district’s actions, asked for clarification on the attorney general’s stance, and said that the state’s education department’s guidance is not law.
“The department does not provide any statutory or court authority supporting its position,” Mr. Essayli wrote. “Never in the history of our jurisprudence have we held that children have a right to privacy from their parents. Clearly, the advice was just that, a political opinion of a state government agency.”
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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