LISD's policy review subcommittee and administration recommended the adoption of the Texas Association of School Boards-initiated policy update 115. The update protects employees from discrimination or firing on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status. This only applies to district employees and does not include students.
LISD general counsel Shawn Swisher said the change is reflective of the changes from the U.S. Department of Education.
Many Nov. 5 public speakers addressed issues of inclusivity and legal issues with the policy adoption. Board member Jim MacKay said the district needs to come to terms with some of the other issues discussed by the public.
“This is one piece of a policy that adds protections for employees, and it brings us into alignment with current law,” MacKay said. “How do we not approve that?”
MacKay said through community conversations, there are identified areas that need to be looked at. He said he will bring up items, such as reading lists, to the board in the future.
Additionally, the district chose to not adopt a policy update related to University Interscholastic League activities, specifically related to travel and overnight travel.
Swisher said the district and subcommittee recommended rejecting the change, retaining the current policy and reviewing the policy at a later date. He said the TASB proposed the elimination of the policy because other policies covered the content, but the subcommittee disagreed with the change.
Board member Elexis Grimes said her biggest concern was the Texas Education Agency bringing the district out of its lane of local control. She said it did not feel like an easy, “black-and-white” decision.
“For me, it was a little more black and white in that it was protections for our staff. Our employees were asking for this,” board member Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia said. “The discussion and this language was based on policy.”