In a dramatic move seeking to reverse a decision by the Fort Worth independent school district’s new superintendent, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called for the resignation of Kent Paredes Scribner after just six months on the job.
Patrick blasted a proposal from Scribner, who was hired in October, that allows transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice and is “consistent with their gender identity.”
Patrick late Monday announced plans to attend today’s Fort Worth ISD board meeting to personally express his outrage.
Scribner’s guideline also urges school officials to offer transgender students access to single-stall restrooms or the opportunity to use a restroom when no other students are present. Scribner has indicated the directive is intended “to foster a productive educational process for all.”
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Rather, the directive has led to an explosive political debate that already stretched well beyond Fort Worth as conservative politicians and special interest groups mobilize opposition to the policy.
Scribner “has placed his own personal political agenda ahead of the more than 86,000 students attending 146 schools in the district. … Campus safety should be of paramount concern for anyone in his position,” Patrick wrote in a statement released on Monday.
“Every parent, especially those of young girls, should be outraged. I call upon the parents within the Fort Worth ISD to take immediate steps to repeal this stealthy scheme and remove Dr. Scribner from his post.”
On Tuesday, Scribner met with the Star-Telegram’s editorial board and said he won’t resign. He said he stands by his policy.
Patrick’s tough stance comes as a national debate over so-called “bathroom bills” rages in the wake of legislative action in North Carolina.
“The State of Texas has an affirmative responsibility to provide a safe environment in the schools where attendance is compulsory. While this may be an example of the need for the Legislature to pass a meaningful School Choice Bill, we must not allow the actions of Dr. Scribner to go unnoticed or unanswered,” Patrick wrote.
Scribner declined to comment Monday.
“We don’t have anything to say right now,’’ Fort Worth school district spokesman Clint Bond said.
Board president Jacinto Ramos issued a statement of support for Scribner, saying, “We have enormous confidence in Superintendent Kent P. Scribner, his team, and our Board. We are focused on creating a strong, safe, and productive learning environment for ALL students.”
Trustees caught flak after the guidelines were announced at the April 19 meeting because there was no public input.
Board members are expected to draw a firestorm of criticism over the policy at Tuesday’s regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at 2903 Shotts Street.
Respect ‘for all’
As part of Scribner’s guidelines, district personnel were instructed in no uncertain terms to “show respect for the student’s desires and wishes to the extent practical so as to foster a productive educational process for all.”
Also, students are to be allowed to participate in athletic activities and other school programs according to their chosen gender expression, subject to University Interscholastic League rules.
The UIL decided in February that participation in gender-specific league sports should be according to the gender on a student’s birth certificate. Birth certificates can be changed and new certificates issued through a legal process.
One of the most controversial parts of Scribner’s guidelines is likely to be the instructions for school personnel on their relationship with transgender students’ parents.
Campus counselors are to serve as “a designated ally” for students on transgender and gender identity issues. They and other personnel are to share information about students, including with that student’s parents, only “on a need-to-know basis or as the student directs.”
They “must work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any,” parents are consulted.
This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.