FASD honors staff; considers bathroom challenges

Several community members addressed the Fairfield Area School board at its regular meeting on Monday Sep. 26 with concerns about the district’s bathroom policies.

During the board’s regular meeting, board solicitor Gareth Pahowka gave a statement before public comment opened.

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“We understand there are some concerns about the district’s implementation of federally-mandated protections for transgender students,” Pahowka said.

Pahowka said gender identity is a protected class that includes transgender students, and that students seeking accommodations must go through an approval process.

Pahowka said students are not allowed to access other bathrooms without gaining approval.

“To the extent other students are uncomfortable sharing facilities with transgender students, the district will work with those students to explore reasonable privacy accommodations or alternatives,” Pahowka said.

Afterwards, several speakers, many identifying themselves as parents of students within the district, voiced concerns about the policy.

“There will be children that will take advantage of this and something bad will likely happen,” one person said.

“I am not happy that we were not notified that this policy went into effect, at all,” another speaker said.

The board said it would respond to questions from the speakers individually following the meeting.

During the meeting, Haupt honored Chuck Engel and Regina Lee for 25 years of service. He also gave awards to Ken Haines, Daniel Irwin, Siri Phelps, and John Ridge for 20 years of service. Some of the employees were not present during the meeting but were acknowledged.

Haupt thanked the employees who received service awards for helping students succeed. Each received a certificate and a gift card.

Irwin took the opportunity to thank the board. “It’s a thankless job often, and I appreciate all of your efforts,” Irwin said.

Siri Phelps also thanked everyone involved at Fairfield. Haupt read comments from Ridge, who was unable to attend the meeting.

The board will hold its next regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10 in the district board room. Meetings are normally livestreamed on the district’s YouTube page.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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