Chino Valley Champion

Parental Notification Policy Revised by School Board

March 16, 2024

(Chino Valley Champion)—The Chino Valley School Board voted 4-1 to change its parental notification policy by removing any mention of gender in response to a judge’s recent rulings in California vs. the Chino Valley Unified School District.

Board member Don Bridge voted against the new policy, stating that he didn’t think it was any better than the previous one that he also opposed.

The updated policy, approved on March 7, eliminates language requiring staff to notify parents when a student asks to use a restroom or pronouns that differ from their gender at birth.

Instead, the revised policy states that schools must notify parents if any student changes their official or unofficial record in any way.

School board president Sonja Shaw said the new policy strikes a balance between upholding the rights of parents while prioritizing student safety and well-being.

School district spokesperson Andi Johnston said a judge placed an injunction on the first two portions of the parental notification policy while confirming the rest of the policy.

The board adopted the original parental notification policy in July, on a 4-1 vote, but a judge ruled that the first two provisions were discriminatory against transgender students.

Emily Rae, senior counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing the district at no cost against a lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, said both versions of the parental notification policy are constitutional, particularly in light of the recent ruling in the Temecula Valley Unified School District case, which reaffirmed that parents have a right to direct their children’s upbringing.

More than 20 speakers addressed the board during the lengthy meeting, both for and against the new policy.

“It’s hard to believe that we have to sit here and talk about a policy to notify parents,” retired Chino police officer John Cervantes said. “This should be automatic. Can you imagine if something happened to your child and you were not called?”

Former teacher Kristi Hirst said the district is being defended by Liberty with the assistance of the district’s legal counsel Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo which is costing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Meanwhile, this board says there is no money to give teachers a raise,” she said.

The original policy was intended to discriminate against transgender students and the revised policy also discriminates, Ms. Hurst said.

Mr. Bridge presented the following questions about the new policy as food for thought:  Does it help with student attendance? Does it help students complete class assignments or projects? Does it help them study for tests and get the grades they need for post-secondary education, whether college or trade school?

“I want to remind you that our mission is student achievement and it all culminates in graduation,” he said. “I don’t think any one of us wants to see our children living at home with us when they are 35. We want to see them successful and get out on their own.”

After the board voted to approve the policy, Mrs. Shaw quipped, “Looks like parents are winning.”

The next court hearing is a trial setting conference on May 3.