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DCSD School Board President Susan Jansen addresses one of two rooms of attendees at the May 16th school board meeting. (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

EXCLUSIVE: DCSD Board President Questions Motivations Of Superintendent

President Susan Jansen speaks exclusively to The Globe after a contentious May 16th school board meeting

By Megan Barth, May 19, 2023 5:24 pm

Douglas County School District Board President Susan Jansen contacted The Globe after a long and contentious school board meeting on May 16th and in response to numerous headlines which have created a false narrative regarding the Trustees’ efforts to protect girls’ sports and private spaces.

Headlines prompt DCSD Board President to contact The Globe (Photo:News4, NVIndy)

This afternoon, President Jansen told The Globe:

As I stated numerous times, the true intent of the agenda item #19 is to protect girls and has nothing to do with what Superintendent Keith Lewis designated as a “transgender policy.”

Many girls and their parents were upset and confused by the wording that Superintendent Lewis used and advertised. A majority of students and parents who attended Tuesday’s Board meeting supported our pro-active efforts to make sure girls weren’t being discriminated against or put in harms way. Since the meeting I have been contacted by multiple parents seeking clarity on the agenda item and offered their support when I explained my intent for the agenda item #19.

Near the end of our seven-hour board meeting, the Superintendent admitted that he had framed the issue to be about a transgender policy absent any input from the board, and so the question I now have is WHY?  He had to have known that any “transgender” focus, considering the heated national debate on multiple fronts, would spark a contentious board meeting and contribute to the false headlines that have dominated local news.

It should also be noted that the citizens of Douglas County spoke in November and elected three new board members. It was evident then, as it is now, that the Douglas County community elected the three of us to carry out the promises we made to them on the campaign trail and that is exactly what the majority of the board are doing and will continue to do.

I am not against transgender students. I am just as concerned with their safety and protection. I am committed to creating a positive learning environment in Douglas County schools embracing all students. I was assured by the principal of Douglas High School that there are four unisex bathrooms and a separate locker room for any student with unique needs. Two of the board members, myself and Katherine Dickerson, have reached out to the principal to organize a meeting with our transgender students so we can have a discussion with them about their feelings and listen to suggestions. We love all students and we want to hear from them.

At the board meeting, I introduced a future agenda item calling for the termination of the services of the current law firm. It will be placed on the June agenda.  I believe that the current law firm does not represent the best interest of the school district. We look forward to accepting applications for new counsel.

Tensions began prior to the meeting when District Superintendent Keith Lewis published and designated the agenda item #19 as a “transgender policy” for the May 16th meeting. In advance of last Tuesday’s meeting, Jansen told The Globe: “The primary purpose of agenda item #19 is to protect girls. This isn’t a transgender policy.” 

In early May, the ACLU NV threatened the board with a lawsuit should they move forward with the policy. At Tuesday’s meeting, the ACLU NV doubled-down on their threat. Executive Director Athar Haseebullah told the Board of Trustees, “We will not, under any circumstance, permit you to discriminate against our transgender or gender-nonconforming students.”

At the end of the meeting, President Jansen acknowledged his comments and replied that the Board of Trustees will not be bullied by the ACLU and will continue to move forward.

The policy was postponed and will be rewritten to reflect the original intent of the policy. The policy will be heard at the next board meeting in June and is expected to pass.

The Globe will continue to provide exclusive updates to this developing story.

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