In a recent meeting of the Old Bridge School Board, intense debate erupted over Policy 5756, a policy pertaining to the rights and support of transgender students. The meeting highlighted a diverse range of perspectives, with some arguing for the immediate repeal of the policy, while others advocated for its continuation to protect vulnerable students.
The public forum was marked by impassioned speeches from community members, parents, and former educators. Elena Francisco, a parent, clarified that many who disagreed with Policy 5756 were not against the LGBTQ+ community, but rather held concerns about parental notification and facility sharing. Similarly, Dean Krer expressed distrust in the school system, arguing that academic performance should take precedence over transgender issues.
In defense of the policy, Jill Dearo, a resident and member of the Old Bridge Town Council, commended board members Jennifer D’Antuono and Marjorie Jodrey for their thoughtful consideration of students and stakeholders. She questioned the sudden outrage surrounding the policy, pondering its real-world application since its amendment in 2017.
Several other community members offered personal anecdotes and deep-seated concerns. Paulina Zosi shared a story about their transgender brother, emphasizing the importance of schools acknowledging and respecting their identity. Conversely, Kale Partman called for the policy’s immediate repeal, arguing it created division and failed to support the majority, citing an incident of sexual abuse by a transgender woman.
The board members themselves showed a united front, emphasizing the unity of the board and the shared goal of prioritizing student welfare. They acknowledged that unless a child was in danger, teachers could not lie to parents about their students’ well-being or academic records. Superintendent David Cittadino specifically defended teachers against accusations, highlighting their dedication to student safety.
The policy committee reviewed various policies and regulations besides Policy 5756, including school leadership councils, sick leave, religion in schools, threat assessment teams, fitness for duty assessments, and sick leave law changes. The committee recommended revisions and updates to these policies, which are expected to be presented for first reading at the next meeting.
The meeting also touched on curriculum and professional development items, finance items, athletics items, non-certificated personnel items, certificated personnel items, transportation items, supplies and equipment items, miscellaneous items, and board secretary and board business items. Each item was discussed, and resolutions were passed after motions and roll call votes.