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11/09/2016

School policies adopted on transgender students, acceptance of gifts

The School Board on Nov. 8, 2016 unanimously approved a policy governing transgender students, and a policy and procedure governing the acceptance of gifts. Both bring the schools into compliance with state law.

Both policies were approved without change after being presented last month for first reading.

The acceptance-of-gifts policy is a rewrite of one approved in May, but was found not to comply with state law. The newly approved policy allows the superintendent to accept gifts of $10,000 or less, but gifts of greater value, and those that might have substantial budgetary or philosophical impact on the schools would need School Board approval.

Potential impact gift may include those that require additional operational, maintenance, installation or staff costs; or those significantly modifies established curriculum or educational policy, said School Board member Barbara Powers, chair of the board's policy subcommittee.

"It was our sense that anything that would fall into that range of potential impact is something that the board would want to be aware of and applaud and weigh in on and accept," she said.

The transgender-student policy was drafted entirely by School Department attorneys at Drummond Woodsum and provides for individual student plans. Participation in interscholastic sports is governed by a committee from the Maine School Principals Association.

Jeff Shedd, principal at the High School, said student government supported the proposal, "enthusiastic" that the School Board was taking a position but also that it is based on a ruling of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The school's Gay/Straight Alliance also supported the policy, Shedd said. "I would say full support from the student body," he said.

In other policy matters, Powers said the policy committee is currently reviewing School Board policy and procedures on cyberbullying prevention and expects to present a draft to the full board in December. The committee will next meet at 8 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at Town Hall.