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Keller ISD Postpones Vote On Anti-Discrimination Policy

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KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) - A large crowd was expected to attend the Keller Independent School District's board meeting on Thursday night, as they discuss a proposed change in how the district's Code of Conduct policy is written. It is routine for area school districts to update or revise their policies, but one issue as people divided.

But late Thursday afternoon KISD decided to postpone a vote on potential anti-discrimination policy revisions for "further consideration."

Casey Akins first made headlines back in March when she was banned from asking another girl to prom by doing what is often called a 'promposal.' According to the district, such 'promposal' events are not allowed to take place on school campuses.

However, while looking into that claim, Akins took issue with something else. The Keller ISD's anti-discrimination policy does not mention anything about sexual orientation.

These suggested revisions were originally recommended by the Regulatory Review committee which convened May 8, 2015, while school was still in session, and included input from parents, students, teachers, Board members and staff members. The Regulatory Review committee suggested the addition of "gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation" to the District's anti-discrimination policies.

The following is a message from Keller ISD Superintendent Dr. Randy Reid regarding this change:

Over the last few days the administration has received a significant amount of input regarding the proposed language changes related to the KISD's anti-discrimination policies. There have been many passionate pleas on both sides of the issue from parents, community members, and current and former students. The District's sole intent in recommending the proposed changes was to ensure that all of our students feel protected by our policy language. The issue has become extremely polarizing, with the great potential of creating feelings of winners and losers. This was certainly not the intention of the District, as we strive to teach our students that by working together we can usually solve even the most challenging issues.

As an educational institution, our first priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students. While the addition of language within a policy might provide an added layer of comfort to some of our students, we believe what is even more important than that are the actual processes that are in place in our schools to prevent and/or deal with instances of discrimination or harassment.

We are focused on developing quality citizens who understand the importance of engagement in our governing processes. While this set of policies went through our normal review process the responses we have received have convinced us that many of our constituents may have inaccurate perceptions regarding the purpose and impact of these proposed changes. Therefore, to better educate the public and continue seeking solutions that clearly identify our desire to protect all students and make them feel safe, we will pull this item from the agenda. In the coming weeks, the District will identify and broadly communicate a process for moving forward. We intend to create a forum for the conversation that can truly lead to solutions regarding any potential harassment.

We will use the momentum gained by this attention to focus on our efforts toward creating a culture of respect and kindness. As you may know, the District recently developed a program and initiated a movement in our schools called R.O.C.K. This acronym stands for Reaching out with Character and Kindness, and the program has already had a positive impact on many of our campuses. We know however, that we still have a long way to go.

Let me be clear, in Keller ISD we will continue our efforts to ensure that ALL our students are not only protected from harassment and discrimination, but that they also feel they are in a safe and welcoming educational environment. If policy language changes are determined to be needed for that to occur, they will be brought forth for the Board's consideration.

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