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    Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)  Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools Published by VDOE -July 18, 2023

     

     

    Following are the protocols for Stafford County Public Schools regarding this model policy. 


    Stafford County Public Schools (Stafford Schools) complies with all applicable federal and state nondiscrimination laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1687 and the Virginia Human Rights Act, Code of Virginia § 2.2-3900.  

     

    A. Maintenance of a Safe and Supportive Learning Environment Free from Discrimination and Harassment for All Students

    1. Stafford Schools prohibits all discrimination and shall comply with all applicable nondiscrimination laws. See also Policy 2420 (Nondiscrimination, Equal Educational Opportunity)

    2. School personnel shall be trained annually on health and mental wellness support to, and safety of, all students as required by Code of Virginia, § 22.1-298.6 and Policy 4709 (Professional Development)

    3. Each school shall make reasonably available, with available resources, school counseling services to all students as provided in 8 VAC 20-620-10 and pursuant to parental/guardian notification requirements therein, including that, no student shall be required to participate in any counseling program to which the student’s parents object. Parents/guardians are provided annually with a description of the school counseling program, which addresses academic guidance, career guidance, and personal/social counseling as defined by 8 VAC 20-620-10 and Policy 2501 (Guidance and Counseling Programs). Parents/guardians are able to opt out their students from school counseling services at any time. Eligible students are defined as students or former students who are 18 or older or are emancipated.

    4. At the request of parents/guardians, each school shall designate an administrator or counselor to speak, together with the student’s parents/guardians with any student regarding questions pertaining to gender. Eligible students are legally able to make their own decisions.  

     

    B. Prevention of and Response to Bullying and Harassment

    1. Stafford Schools will provide bullying prevention education in accordance with Code of Virginia § 22.1-208.01 and Policy 2404 (Anti-Bullying).

    2. Any incident or complaint of discrimination, harassment, or bullying shall be given prompt attention, including investigating the incident and taking appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action, by the school administrator. See Policy 2404 (Anti-Bullying), Regulation 2401-R (Code of Student Conduct), Policy 4907 (Grievances and Grievance Procedures: Title IX/504), Regulation 4907-R (Grievances and Grievance Procedures: Title IX), and Regulation 4907-R, Exhibit A (Report of Harassment).

    3. Bullying of any student by another student, for any reason, is not tolerated in our schools. Intervening immediately to stop bullying on the spot can help ensure a safer school environment for all students. See Policy 2404 (Anti-Bullying) and Regulation 2401-R (Code of Student Conduct).

    4. Policy 1113 (Public Complaints) sets forth the chain of communication protocol for students and parents/guardians to use in instances when complaints are not resolved at the school level.  

    5. School administrators shall inform parents/guardians of any bullying incidents that involve their child within 24 hours of learning of the allegation of bullying, per the requirements of Code of Virginia § 22.1-279.6(D), Policy 2404 (Anti-Bullying), and Regulation 2401-R (Code of Student Conduct). 

    C. Maintenance of Student Records

    1. Stafford Schools is required to maintain an official record for each student that includes the student’s legal name and sex as required by federal and state laws. See also Policy 6102 (Student Education Records). The division may be required by law to use or report a student’s legal name or sex in some situations to outside agencies. See Regulation 6102-R (Student Education Records)

    The student’s legal name, birth date, sex assigned at birth, and parent(s) name as they appear on the birth certificate shall be considered the student’s official identification and entered into the student’s education record.

    1. A school shall change the legal name or sex in a student or former student’s education record only if a parent/guardian or eligible student submits a legal document, such as a birth certificate, state-or federal-issued identification, passport, or court order substantiating the student or former student’s change of legal name or sex. Regulation 6102-R (Student Education Records) explains the process for amending student records. 

    D. Identification of Students

    1. Every effort will be made to ensure that transgender students wishing to change their means of address are treated with respect, compassion, and dignity in the classroom and school environment. See Policy 2420 (Nondiscrimination) and Policy 4113 (Standards of Professional Conduct for All Employees)

    2. Personnel shall refer to each student using only (i) the name that appears in the student’s official record, or (ii) if the student prefers, using any nickname commonly associated with the name that appears in the student’s official record. Nothing in this policy shall prevent personnel from using a different name for a student when it is necessary for the student’s academic instruction, such as using a name more common in a foreign country while in a foreign-language course.  

    3. Personnel shall refer to each student using only the

    pronouns appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record - that is, male pronouns for a student whose sex is male, and female pronouns for a student, unless there is a parent/guardian approved Gender Support Plan in place. Eligible students are legally able to make their own decisions.

    1. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of this section, personnel shall refer to a student by a name other than one in the student’s official record, or by pronouns other than those appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record, only if an eligible student or a student’s parent/guardian has instructed in writing to do so.

    2. Any written instruction from a parent/guardian or eligible student under paragraph (4) of this section shall be memorialized in the student’s official record and is subject to state and federal laws governing  retention, disclosure, and confidentiality laws. The legal name and sex of a student shall not be changed, even upon the written instruction of a parent/guardian or eligible student, except as specified in paragraph (C)(2).

    3. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (4) of this section, no personnel or students are compelled to address or refer to students in any manner that would violate their 

    constitutionally protected rights. See also Policy 4113 (Standards of Professional Conduct for All Employees), Policy 2420 (Nondiscrimination, Equal Educational Opportunity), and Policy 4107 (Nondiscrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti-Retaliation).

    1. Stafford Schools does not encourage or instruct teachers to conceal material information about a student from the student’s parent/guardian, including information related to gender. Eligible students are legally able to make their own decisions. However, Stafford Schools shall comply with all laws that prohibit disclosure of information to parents/guardians, including but not limited to Code of Virginia § 22.1-272.1(B) (prohibiting parental contact where student is at imminent risk of suicide related to parental abuse or neglect). See also Regulation 2202-R (Suicide Risk).

    E. Protection of Student Privacy and the Confidentiality of Sensitive Information

    1. Stafford Schools shall comply with the limitations on access to student records provided in Code of Virginia §§ 22.1-287 through 289.01 and Regulation 6102-R (Student Education Records)

    2. Stafford Schools shall adhere to legal standards of confidentiality relating to sensitive student information and personally identifiable data covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. See also Policy 6102 (Student Education Records) and Regulation 6102-R (Student Education Records).

    3. Stafford Schools shall disclose sensitive student information (including any survey or evaluation related to the student’s gender) only (i) to the student, the student’s parents/guardians (except in the case of eligible students), and school personnel with a legitimate educational interest, or (ii) when required by law. See also Policy 4113 (Standards of Professional Conduct for All Employees) and Regulation 6102-R (Student Education Records).

    F. Enforcement of Sex-Based Dress Codes

    1. Students may dress in any manner consistent with maintaining a respectful, distraction-free environment which supports a focus on learning for all students. See Regulation 2412-R (Student Dress Code and Symbolic Expression).

    2. Students are not required to dress in a gender-neutral manner. However, any dress or grooming code shall provide the same set of rules and standards regardless of gender, as required by the Code of Virginia § 22.1-279.6. See also Regulation 2412-R (Student Dress Code and Symbolic Expression).

    G. Student Participation in Sex-Specific School Activities and Events and Use of School Facilities

    1. For any school program, event, or activity (including extracurricular activities) that are separated by sex, the appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex rather than gender or gender identity. 

    Parents/guardians or eligible students should consult with the school administrator to discuss the process for requesting reasonable modifications to the aforementioned rule. Schools shall provide reasonable modifications to this policy as required by law in consultation with the parent/guardian or eligible student.

    1. Where state or federal law requires schools to permit transgender students to share otherwise sex-segregated facilities (such as bathrooms or locker rooms) with students of the opposite sex, parents/guardians should be given the right to opt their child out of using such facilities, and the child should be given access to alternative facilities that promote the child’s privacy and safety. Eligible students should also be given the right to opt out of using such facilities and be given access to alternative facilities.  

    2. Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms, and other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex. Stafford Schools shall provide reasonable modifications to this policy as required by law.

    3. Students shall use bathrooms that correspond to their sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires. See Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, 972 F.3d 586 (4th Cir. 2020)

    4. Single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students.

    5. Parents/guardians or eligible students are encouraged to discuss reasonable accommodations for disabilities with the school administrator.

    H. Athletics

    Athletic participation regulated by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) or another organization must be in compliance with policies and rules outlined by those organizations.