EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The Board of Education will introduce its policy regarding transgender access to facilities Oct. 29.

New rules to comply with state guidelines are scheduled to be discussed at 7 p.m. in the boardroom at Alder Avenue Middle School.

Failure to adopt guidelines may result in a loss of funding. A state-required review of district policies showed the district was out of compliance with state guidelines regarding having a policy for transgender student rights.

Under the terms of a corrective action plan, the district has 180 days to implement policy updates or it could lose $3.5 million in federal funds and additional state funds, Business Administrator Chandra Anaya has said.

Based on the discussion that took place Tuesday evening during a work session meeting, board member Barbara Szilagyi will have suggestions for additions to and deletions from the document that has been worked on in the policy committee.

Szilagyi said her ideas are based on new knowledge or information she received, but she did not detail what that information was, or what her policy additions or deletions would be.

Szilagyi said she knew the board would not be voting Tuesday night, so she did not come prepared with her ideas in writing for her fellow board members.

It was apparent some board members were satisfied with what the policy committee had come up with.

“This has been prolonged enough,” said Tamika Gilbert-Floyd, a board member and chairwoman of the policy committee, who added the district’s guidelines follow what the state recommends.

Two and a half years ago, the board failed to adopt a policy concerning transgender student access to facilities.

Board member Pete Castellano said the district’s transgender student rights policy was developed by the Toms River law firm Strauss Esmay, which has developed similar policies for other districts in the state, with additional input from the Atlantic City firm of Cooper Levenson.

“We need to follow state law,” said Castellano, who added passing the policy is the right thing to do.

Township resident Deborah Rockelman asked whether there was a state law that the district had to have transgender guidelines.

“We shouldn’t discriminate against anybody,” Rockelman said.

Gilbert-Floyd said whatever policy the board adopts, it is the administrative team that will have to implement it.

“It will not be perfect overnight,” Gilbert-Floyd said. “You have to let the administrative team roll it out.”

Gilbert-Floyd brought up the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education, in which the justices unanimously ruled that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.

“No one is going anywhere,” Gilbert-Floyd said. “We are made up of different people. If people don’t like it, it’s on them.”

Contact: 609-272-7202


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