The Newport News School Board reconsidered its vote against a transgender policy. After frustration from transgender advocates and politicians including Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) and Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News), the board voted four to three in favor of the policy, flipping its previous vote of five to one with one abstention.
In the Thursday special meeting Member John Eley explained why he changed his vote: “As school board members we must uphold the law and follow the law. If we’re not in compliance with the law, we’re breaking the rules.”
The Chesapeake Public Schools Board declined to even vote on passing a transgender policy in its Monday meeting. After hours of public comment advocating for and against both mask policy and the transgender policy, Member Patricia King’s motion to pass the policy died without being seconded by any other board member.
The Newport News Schools Board voted 5-1 with one abstention against adopting a transgender policy on Tuesday. Board members cited concerns about provisions limiting how school staff can discuss children’s gender with parents and other concerns about implementation.
“For us to have to go in this direction when we have kids that are failing and are dropping out who didn’t get a great education as other kids did during the pandemic to discuss a gender policy,” Member John Eley said.
The Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) superintendent George Parker announced Tuesday that he was postponing the plan that would have brought students back to the classroom for the first time since March.
The delay comes after the Newport News School Board voted 5-2 during its meeting last week to allow for a phased return to in-person instruction for K-12 students.