Home » Webster Parish School Board considers joining lawsuit over Title IX changes

Webster Parish School Board considers joining lawsuit over Title IX changes

by Amber McDown

The Webster Parish School Board (WPSB) convened for their regular meeting on Thursday, May 2, to address a range of important issues, including recognizing outstanding employees, approving educational opportunities for staff, and discussing legal matters impacting education policy. One of the key points of discussion was whether or not to join a lawsuit against the Biden administration over changes to Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Board members not present were Linda Kinsey, Johnnye Kennon, and Jerry Lott. 

The meeting began with routine procedures before moving on to more substantive matters. Kevin Thompson of Taylor and Sons recognized Robin Tucker, personnel director and SFS supervisor, as the Employee of the Month. Details of Ms. Tucker’s commendation will be featured in an upcoming article in the Minden Press-Herald.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to the discussion of a lawsuit against the Biden administration over changes to Title IX. The amendments to Title IX would challenge 24 state laws that ban transgender youth from participating in sports among other things. Superintendent Rowland explained that joining the lawsuit would involve the board officially becoming a party to the legal action, while supporting the lawsuit would simply indicate the board’s agreement with its objectives without direct involvement.

Superintendent Rowland emphasized the importance of making a decision that evening, as it was the final day to join the lawsuit. However, he also noted that the board could declare a resolution in support of the suit at a later date if they did not wish to decide that evening. He reassured the board that joining the lawsuit would not pose any financial burden, as the Attorney General is litigating at no cost to the board.

After some discussion and debate, the board voted unanimously to add the item to the agenda for further action. A substitute motion was then made to vote on joining the lawsuit instead of just supporting it. Jerri Lee and Ronnie Rhymes voted against joining, with Lee expressing a desire to have more time to review the documents.

Despite their initial vote, the board ultimately adopted a resolution in support of joining the lawsuit, with both Lee and Rhymes voting against once again. The decision to join the lawsuit marks the board’s formal commitment to challenging the changes to Title IX that support the rights of transgender youth to participate in sports among other things.

In other business, the board unanimously ratified the exchange of deeds for Griffith Stadium and the Clerk Street water plant between the City of Minden and WPSB. Attorney Paul Kitchens advised the board on legal matters related to the exchange, suggesting property inspection, insurance coverage, establishment of usage policies, and requiring liability waivers.

The board also unanimously approved Dusty Rangel’s attendance at the NIET Summer Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, in June, funded by Title II. Several expenditures were approved using various maintenance funds to enhance Webster Parish campuses.

Superintendent Rowland, Jerri Lee, and Jonathan Guthrie shared positive feedback from touring the on-campus David Raines health centers at Turner Elementary/Middle School and Fair Park Middle School. These centers provide immediate medical treatment to students, particularly when parents cannot be reached, funded by Medicaid and private insurance.

The next board meeting will be a special call meeting on May 20, followed by the next regular board meeting on June 3 at the school board office, both open to the public.

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