Board votes new Anti-Discrimination policy – doing the right thing the wrong way

Published November 24, 2019 by justicewg

(Watch at 59:30 in the Nov 2019 board meeting video)

The Grandview Heights school board changed the non-discrimination policy of the school at the November 2019 board meeting. Although adding protection for gender and sexual expression was the right thing to do, they did nothing to ask the parents of the school how they felt about these changes – no questionnaires sent out, no meetings held. This was a subject that would have sparked debate in the community, and no matter which side of the gender expression controversy you stand on, the correct way to change board policy is to allow the debate to happen.

Now that the board has passed the levy for new school construction, the board’s concern for listening to parents has disappeared. In the past (many years ago now), a new policy that was controversial – like changes to the alcohol rules, or new valedictorian policy – was accompanied by special meetings. After the board heard hours of arguments and explanation on how the new rules might cause issues in the community, then the members read through stacks of email, the board could take action knowing they had a good handle on the outcome of changed policy. All the discussion might not have changed any minds on the board – they have always kept their personal views closed off, unless they are supporting the outcome that they know will receive the standard unanimous vote. But at least the parents of the community knew that they had a meeting to attend at which their voice could be heard. We are back to the status quo – and your voice is unimportant.

No notice given to parents

Like all new policy the board considers, there was no notice that changes will be up for a vote. There was no “action item for the board” listed on the school website. There was no notices in emails to the community. This is, unfortunately, standard for the board.

Did you watch all the way though the last posted video of the board monthly meeting in October? If you did, and listened carefully all the way to the 2:14:24 mark, there was a submission in the “other items for discussion” section of the meeting. Ms Palmisciano asked the board to consider the changes in non-discrimination policy that would add protection for gender and sexual expression. She said this was a “first reading”.

There was no announcement that the policy would be up for a vote in the November meeting, just that is was “presented for discussion”. There was no discussion at the October meeting, other than a question from Mr Bode on the wording of the policy. Present Truett said “this change can be discussed at the November meeting”, and gave no hint that the policy would be voted at the next meeting.

There was no discussion at the November meeting – the new policy was read, then immediately voted, five yes. If there was discussion going on, it was happening outside board meetings, in private conversations between board members. These private discussions are not supposed to happen, according to the open meting laws of the state of Ohio.

The answer for “why did Palmisciano ask for changes in the board non-discrimination policy?” can only be guessed, she didn’t answer my email sent after I saw the video of the October board meeting. I bet it had to do with the embarrassing failure of the board during the May 2019 meeting, during which not a single member had the courage to second a motion of support for Pride Month. Since Palmisciano will be leaving the board at the end of the year, she had one last chance to show she was not a bigot.

I guess you are not a bigot, Ms Palmisciano. Is being an anti-democratic Technocrat any better?

Unanimous vote in favor of a nondiscrimination policy

At 59:30 in the Nov 2019 board meeting video, Ms Palmisciano read out the new policy the board will be required to follow. She said the rules will now include protection for “race, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, age, disability, military status”.

The addition to the policy is three categories – sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Given the controversy sparked in the community by the addition of gender neutral restrooms in the new construction at the schools, the addition of new gender protections was sure to be a move from the board that would have created some intense debate.

But debate isn’t wanted by Grandview’s school board. They just want you to be good constituents, and keep your mouths closed, because they already know what is good for the community.

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