Community members bring attention to current litigation within School District No.1

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Emma Marsing, [email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — Many community members and Sweetwater County Legislatures attended the Sweetwater School District #1 meeting this past Monday as they showed their support for Sean and Ashley Willey regarding the current litigation, as well as brought many heavy concerns to the Boards attention.

The Board of Trustees meeting began with a statement from Carol Jelaco, Chair of the Board, regarding the current litigation that has sparked much support and concern around the county, state, and nation. Jericho began with this remark, “It’s not news to anyone that our school districts and schools across our nation face challenging times. Challenging for parents, students, teachers, administrators, and school board members. We are frequently dealing with polarizing issues, which dry emotional reactions that can tear a school district apart. We’ve seen this too often recently with too many school districts. Please, let’s not allow this to happen in our Sweetwater schools. We have all agreed that our students must be our first priority. As a Board, we have adopted this statement of belief: We believe in being committed to excellence in education, by maximizing available resources and understanding our proper role in overseeing the district in openness and integrity”.

At this time, Sweetwater County School District #1 Board of Trustees and Administrators are working on a statement regarding the current litigation through the Court of Law and do not plan on trying this suit through the Court of Public Opinion. With that, Jelaco stated, “We also follow the law. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has made clear that it will enforce Title IX prohibition on the basis of sex, to include discrimination based on sexual orientation, and discrimination based on gender identity. As members of your Board of Education, we must be careful when commenting about any active litigation and we must protect the privacy of those involved, especially our students”.

Located in the audience to show support for Sean and Ashley Willey, were members of the Moms For Liberty – Sweetwater County, WY group as well as SD12 Senator John Kolb, SD13 Senator Stacy Jones, HD17 Representative J.T. Larsen, HD18 Representative Scott Hiner, HD39 Representative Cody Wiley, and HD48 Representative and Speaker pro tempore, Clark Stith, amongst many community members.

Speaking on behalf of the Moms for Liberty – Sweetwater County, WY group as well as all parents and children who are falling to the funding issues within the district, Laura Taliaferro Pearson, quickly briefed the Board that located within the Wyoming Constitution it reads that each competent adult is able to make their own health care decisions. If referring to a child, the legal parent/guardian is able to make health care decisions, not the school board. “No school entity should have the power to make these decisions without the parent’s involvement”. Pearson also wrote a letter that summarized that she signifies herself as a “male mind, in a female body” due to the fact that as a kid she didn’t like wearing dresses, playing with girl toys, or doing the things that “typical girls” like to do, and still doesn’t to this day but is proud of who she is. On top of that Pearson explained that every challenge one faces is a challenge that makes them stronger and that you don’t have to change who you are.

HD48 Representative and Speaker pro tempore, Clark Stith, spoke to the Board regarding the litigation, as he stated “I would not let the pendency of a lawsuit paralyze the Board from taking action”. HD48 Representative Stith stated that if the district was to adopt a new policy or procedure at this time, that could not be used against them in court and that he urged them to get on top of the issues while they can. HD48 Representative Stith also added that he expects many Parental Right Bills will be introduced next Legislative Session. “Don’t be frozen. You can do the right thing, you can make reasonable policy, you can change your policy, without fear that it is going to adversely affect your position in the courts”.

Amongst other concerns brought to the Boards attention was a previous principal’s sudden absence without any knowledge to the students and parents, a teacher telling the students that due to their low WYTOPP scores, she had been failed by the class and she could lose her job, teachers having unclear communication with parents and students, many instances happening within the Rock Springs Junior High bathrooms, more time for staff to provide feedback, where school funds are being placed, and the falling WYTOPP scores.

More information regarding the current litigation can be found here.