In a recent meeting, the East Rutherford School Board navigated through scrutiny of a policy on transgender students and the appointment of a new member, Jillian Cauley.
The board president, Antonio Segolini, detailed the current status of the district’s policy on transgender students, noting that several districts in New Jersey have either revoked or made changes to their respective policies, resulting in the state filing lawsuits against them in Superior Court.
This comes after Governor Phil Murphy’s established protections for students who have transitioned their gender identity, requiring schools to recognize these changes, while also including a provision that bars schools from disclosing such gender identity changes to parents.
Segolini mentioned that as of August 22nd, a judge had put a stay on any changes that those districts had made to their policies. Segolini emphasized the board’s responsibility to be financially and fiscally responsible for the district, especially given that they are cash-strapped. He stated, “It’s our job to make sure that we’re not getting sued because billable hours is undefeated in the United States of America.”
The board discussed the possibility of having an emergency meeting to address any immediate changes required, emphasizing that they were in a “wait and see mode” but were actively monitoring the situation. They acknowledged the public interest in the issue and the importance of separating personal beliefs from their duties as board members. Segolini stated, “When you’re on the board, your personal beliefs have to be separate from your beliefs that you do as a board member.”
Separately, Superintendent Giovanni Giancaspro reported on safety evaluations conducted at different schools and commended the maintenance and custodial teams for their efforts. The district, experiencing an influx of 34 students, bringing the total enrollment to 770, is in the final stages of closing out procedures for referendum renovation construction.
Finally, a significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to interviewing candidates for a vacant board seat. Jillian Cauley, a community volunteer and advocate for academic excellence and fiscal responsibility, was appointed as the new board member.
Cauley emphasized the importance of fostering different learning styles and ensuring community collaboration in the board’s decision-making. “I have no concerns with dedicating as much time necessary,” she assured, expressing her commitment to making parents’ voices heard and being part of the decision-making process.