ROUND ROCK—A local parent has filed a complaint against Round Rock Independent School District over a professional development slideshow where teachers were instructed to withhold certain information from parents regarding their child’s gender “identity.”
Recently, parents uncovered that Walsh Middle School in RRISD had used a “Names and Pronouns” themed training course for their staff professional development.
This course instructed teachers to withhold students’ “gender identity” from their parents.
When asked about the course, RRISD administrators claimed this instructive “gender identity” presentation has “never been part of any district-wide professional development.”
However, the presentation was obtained through an open records request under the Texas Public Information Act sent by the Round Rock chapter leader for the Independent Women’s Network, Michelle Evans.
The presentation title is “Names and Pronouns: Supporting and Respecting Our LGBTQ+ Students.” It was presented during Walsh Middle School’s Professional Development Session 3 on January 4, 2022.
Since discovering the presentation, Evans has led the charge in filing grievances against the school.
Evans’ Level One grievance alleges the presentation’s instructions violate the Texas Education Code Chapter 26, which states, “A parent is entitled to access to all written records of a school district concerning the parent’s child.”
KP-0100 reads “Chapter 11 (Texas Education Code 11.201) requires that policy decisions, like those addressing parental involvement with students’ gender identity choices, be addressed by the board of trustees prior to the development of any related administrative regulations.”
That opinion was written in response to a Fort Worth ISD policy created in 2016 that encouraged employees and students to withhold information from their parents about their gender.
“To the extent that the Transgender Student Guidelines adopted by the Fort Worth Independent School District superintendent limit parental access to information about their child and operate to encourage students to withhold information from parents contrary to the provisions in chapter 26, they violate state law,” the opinion states.
Similarly, KP-0406 states, “Chapter 26 of the Education Code expressly provides that parents are entitled to the health information of their child, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act grants parents the right to inspect and review the education records of their children, including health information.”
Parents possess a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their child, and school districts and officials must work in partnership with parents in furtherance of the child’s education. Failing to work with parents and provide requested information about a student could subject the school district to legal challenges, civil liability, and financial loss.
Evans’ grievance was filed against Walsh Middle School administrators, the Round Rock High School Learning Community Area Superintendent, the Round Rock ISD Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Round Rock ISD Administration, and the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees.
Evans told Texas Scorecard her grievance is just the tip of the iceberg and, very shortly, the complaints by RRISD parents will begin flooding in.
The district’s interim chief of public affairs and communications, Maritza Gallaga said the presentation was teacher-created and given only once.
“Once notified, we took the appropriate steps and it was not shared again at any level,” said Gallaga. “To be clear, this presentation has never been part of any district-wide training for staff, nor do we have a policy containing this information. We deal with all cases regarding trans students on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.”
Gallaga told Texas Scorecard that since this Level One grievance involves a situation that occurred during the 2021-2022 school years, it is “untimely.”
She concluded, saying, “Under RRISD Board policy, if a complaint is not timely filed the complaint shall be dismissed.”
When Evans received the dismissal she told Texas Scorecard, “Round Rock ISD needs to know that parents will not sit back and watch this district become a haven for adults who take advantage of vulnerable children experiencing mental health issues.”
“Parents have to push back against policies, written or unwritten, that treat them as adversaries,” she said.