Federal Guidance for Transgenders

Good Morning Superintendents,

Federal Guidance for Transgenders
Last Friday, schools may have received a Dear Colleague letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice containing “guidance” for ensuring the civil rights of transgender students at school. State agencies and state chiefs had no prior knowledge of the communication. Within hours, my office released this statement on the matter.

Today, I’ve included a special memo addressed to you and to principals. We will send it electronically to principals this afternoon. It further clarifies my position and the challenges that lie ahead for all of us. Attached to the memo is a letter signed by U.S. Senators, including Senators Enzi and Barrasso. Governor Mead also weighed in early this week with a statement.

Select Accountability Meeting
It was good to see many of you at last week’s Select Accountability legislative committee meeting. In reflection, I share a few of my takeaways:

  • Legislators were very interested in hearing from districts. They regularly reached out for input during the meeting. This will continue to be the trend.
  • Committee members heard clearly from me, school districts, and others on Phase II of the accountability work. They laid back a draft bill that would have started the work on a centralized leader evaluation system. They heard about how districts are holding leaders to high standards already and that adjustments are needed but not, necessarily, via legislation. It’s not off the table for good and the advisory committee will weigh in soon.
  • The select committee voted to support using the advisory committee as the base stakeholder design team for ESSA planning and implementation, regarding accountability.
  • Overall, the discussion was excellent and moved the ball forward on accountability and assessment topics.

Meeting with U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management
On Tuesday, I attended a coal rally and forum with representatives from the federal government entities responsible for imposing the moratorium on coal leases. Hundreds attended with both sides (pro and anti coal) well-organized. I felt a bit like a fish out of water in this crowd but found my stride when I had the opportunity to share how coal and the mineral industry enhance our communities and education system. I shared how since 2003, roughly $3 billion has been spent to build or renovate over 100 schools. I also compared Wyoming to other rural states with respect to equitable opportunities, especially with 100% SPED and transportation costs covered by the State. I am concerned that more educators and citizens are not involved in the discussion.

Coal supporters at the coal rally in Casper on Tuesday.
Coal supporters at the coal rally in Casper on Tuesday.
People gathered for a coal rally in Casper.
Senator Enzi and I (both from Gillette) had a chance to talk about how “Wyoming supports coal and coal supports Wyoming” at the pre-rally on Tuesday in Casper.
Superintendent Balow with the Wyoming Contractors Association (WCA) Training Center Executive Director Rod Thomas and the President of the Construction Careers Foundation Quint Davis.
With the Wyoming Contractors Association (WCA) Training Center Executive Director Rod Thomas and the President of the Construction Careers Foundation Quint Davis.

A student practices using an excavator simulator.

This student is using the excavator simulator at the WCA Regional Training Center in Casper.  Once he reaches benchmarks on the simulator and completes written coursework, he will be ready to operate the “real deal.”

Memos to be released Monday, May 23:

Jillian