JCPS board votes to amend anti-harassment policy


Amanda Tu

The JCPS board sits after voting 6-1 to pass the amended anti-harassment policy. Photo by Amanda Tu

The JCPS board voted last night to expand the district’s anti-harassment policy to include protections regardless of political affiliation, gender identity and gender expression in a 6-1 decision.

Board member Linda Duncan opposed the proposal, stating that though she did not advocate for “discrimination of any kind,” she was concerned that it was too vague and will be difficult to enforce.

She also expressed worries that the revised policy would create ambiguity regarding the treatment of groups not explicitly enumerated, citing the example of a hypothetical student who was harassed for having a large nose.

Board member Chuck Haddaway expressed similar apprehensions with the way the proposal was constructed, but he ultimately voted in favor of because he said that he agreed with the spirit of the rule and he believes that “the top concern should be to keep students safe in schools.”

Board member Diane Porter added that she supported the policy with the understanding that Superintendent Donna Hargens would return with a clear outline of practical enforcement mechanisms.

Manual GSTA President Oberon Coverdale (12, VA) said that making targeted efforts to ensure the safety of transgender students is essential to promoting a secure school environment.

“I think [this policy] is absolutely necessary,” he said. “The more specific that you get you get with people, the more safe they’re going to feel, because otherwise they might question the rule.”

The current version of the policy also prohibits harassment and discrimination based on a person’s race, color, creed, national origin, age, religion, marital or parental status, political beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, genetic information or disability.

The board initially heard a first reading of this proposal at their Aug. 10 meeting, where they voted 5-2 to hear a second reading at a later date.