Scotch Plains-Fanwood Public Schools published a 2022-2025 strategic plan for the school district. The first goal in the strategic plan is labeled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The school district describes the goal as “to increase opportunities to develop a district committed to diversity, equity and inclusion through hiring practices of educational and support staff, curriculum development and student empowerment.” The school district intends to “increase the use of culturally relevant instruction and curriculum” and “re-examine history/culture/science to include diverse perspectives and content.”
The school district explains in the strategic plan that it will specifically “evaluate and revise curriculum to ensure meaningful implementation of the district’s Statement of Purpose and Belief.” The district will “conduct an audit of the curriculum to review how various mandates including the Holocaust, Amistad, Inclusive Curriculum, and DEI mandates are being addressed.” The district will also “select criteria to evaluate curriculum for diversity, equity, and inclusion” and will “begin developing a scope and sequence of topics and concepts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion to be addressed in the curriculum.”
The strategic plan features a list of objectives for the school district to accomplish:
- Increase the use of culturally relevant instruction and curriculum; re-examine history/culture/science to include diverse perspectives and content.
- Increase diverse educational staffing, training, and capacity building so that staff more fully reflect the composition of our community and have a better understanding of, and engagement with students.
- Increase opportunities for students of color/BIPOC (black, indigenous & people of color), special education/ELL and other marginalized groups in all curricular and programmatic areas. Analyze data to increase these opportunities.
- Develop opportunities to empower students to learn self-advocacy and leadership.
- To expand on-going training opportunities for staff to include culture, identity, neurological diversity.
- To create district supported project-based learning focused on local social justice issues.
- Assess district materials for content that is reflective of the current global community.
On April 25, 2019, the school district passed a policy labeled “Transgender Students.” The policy includes definitions for terms including “gender identity,” “gender expression,” and “gender nonconforming.” In the definition for “gender identity,” the school district explains that “for transgender people, the individual’s internal gender identity is not the same as the gender assigned at birth.” The school district defines “gender expression” as “external manifestations of gender, expressed through a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, and/or body characteristics.” The school district then describes “gender nonconforming” as “a person whose gender expression does not conform to the gender expectations of their family or community.”
The policy states that “the school district shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity; parental consent is not required.” The policy continues to state that “there is no affirmative duty for any school district staff member to notify a student’s parent of the student’s gender identity or expression.” If parents disagree with the school using a student’s preferred pronouns, “school staff members should continue to refer to the student in accordance with the student’s chosen name and pronoun at school and may consider providing resource information regarding family counseling and support services outside of the school district.” The school district may even ask a “Board Attorney” for help in dealing with parents who don’t agree.
The policy further explains that “a school’s obligation to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of gender identity requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities, even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns.” The superintendent will also ensure that “training is provided to school staff members on sensitivity and respect towards transgender students.”
The policy then explains that the school records of students should reflect their chosen gender identity:
To ensure consistency among teachers, school administrators, substitute teachers, and other school staff members, every effort should be made to immediately update student education records (for example, attendance records, transcripts, Individualized Education Programs (IEP), etc.) with the student’s chosen name and gender pronouns, consistent with the student’s gender identity and expression, and not circulate records with the student’s birth name, unless directed by the student.
The policy also explains that “all students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities in accordance with their gender identity to allow for involvement in various school programs and activities.” The policy states that “with respect to gender-segregated classes or athletic activities, including intramural and interscholastic athletics, all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity.” The following examples of what the school district will do for transgender students are then listed:
- Provide transgender students with the same opportunities to participate in physical education as other students in accordance with their gender identity.
- Permit a transgender student to participate in gender-segregated school activities in accordance with the student’s gender identity.
- Permit and support the formation of student clubs or programs regarding issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
- Offer support in the creation of peer led educational groups.
On June 30, 2016, the school district adopted a revised “Comprehensive Equity Plan” policy. The policy mandates that an equity plan will be written every three years for the school district. The plan “shall include staffing practices, quality-of-program data, stakeholder-satisfaction data, and student assessment and behavioral data disaggregated by gender, race, ethnicity, limited English proficiency, special education, migrant, date of enrollment, student suspension, expulsion, Child Study Team referrals, preschool through grade twelve promotion/retention data, preschool through grade twelve completion rates, and re-examination and re-evaluation of classification and placement of students in special education programs if there is overrepresentation within a certain group.”