The majority of the commenters spoke about the board’s vote on eight policies: selecting library books; selecting instructional materials; prohibiting the promotion of critical race theory; designating district bathrooms and changing facilities based on the person’s biological sex; defining how teachers should teach controversial topics; designating participation in UIL activities based on the student's biological sex; the distribution of nonschool literature by students; and the distribution of nonschool literature by others. The district policies referencing biological sex require students to use what is listed on their birth certificate or other government record.
All of the policies were considered together as a single agenda item and were approved in a 4-3 vote. Trustees Becky St. John, Coley Canter and Jorge Rodríguez voted against the policies.
The policies covering classroom materials and library books were recommended by the Texas Education Agency on April 11. Several districts across the metroplex, including Carroll ISD in Southlake, have adopted the split-book policy to have classroom and library books fall under different criteria.
GCISD's policies presented Aug. 22 were created “over the course of several months” by a board-appointed Policy Ad Hoc Committee, the district's internal policy review committee and the district’s legal counsel. Superintendent Robin Ryan said trustees Kathy Florence Spradley, Casey Ford and Shannon Braun were on the ad hoc committee.
The board vote came after nearly four hours of public comment. Braun made a motion to amend discussion rules for the item. Each trustee had three minutes to discuss and ask questions about the policies and could only speak once.
St. John, Canter and Rodríguez cited concerns about teachers’ handling of the policies and possible legal action against the district as their reasons for voting against the changes.
"None of these policies are good for GCISD,” St. John said.
Voting in favor of the policies were trustees Braun, Ford, Spradley and Tammy Nakamura. They said the policies protected children and were a reflection of community values.
“I ran on the promise of ending these assaults on our children,” Nakamura said. “I've kept the promise of my candidacy and will continue to do so.”
The board also changed its policy related to electing trustees. The new policy, approved in a separate 4-3 vote during the meeting, replaces the requirement for a candidate to win their place seat in a majority vote. The new policy states board members will be elected based on having the most votes in that particular race. The new policy will eliminate the need for runoff elections, Spradley said. Runoffs occur in races with three or more candidates where no one receives more than 50% of the vote.
St. John, Canter and Rodríguez voted against the policy.
The new election policy goes into effect Nov. 7, 180 days before the next GCISD board election on May 6, 2023.
Below is the information provided by the district outlining the policy changes approved by the board.