North Thurston school board revises gender-inclusive policy, signs partnership with three Washington universities

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Timberline High School hosted North Thurston Public Schools’ (NTPS) first regular board meeting for 2022 on Jan. 11, 2022.

Timberline Principal Paul Dean and some student representatives welcomed the NTPS board as they presented plans for the academic year, which focuses on school-wide student participation.

Gender-inclusive Schools Policy

In a bid to foster a discrimination-free educational environment, the North Thurston Public Schools Board of Directors revised on Tuesday their “Transgender Policy” to a more comprehensive “Gender-inclusive Schools Policy.”

The revised policy highlighted the importance of gender-inclusive communication in terms of using names and pronouns, student records, and confidential health and education information.

“I do believe that inclusive approaches including communications, health, and participation in sports and activities provide great opportunities for students regardless of their gender identity,” NTPS District 3 Board Member Jennifer Thomas said.

Thomas also stressed the relevance of including the use of physical spaces like school restrooms and locker rooms in the revised policy.

Gender-inclusivity in sports and physical education, dress codes, and other school activities were also highlighted in the revised policy.

“We shall not operate without policies and practices that ensure that our students and parents are welcomed into our schools and facilities,” Sarah Rich, NTPS executive director of assessment and student achievement, said.

Implementing the revised policy would include comprehensive training of staff and volunteers to maintain a “safe, civil, respectful, and inclusive” learning community.

Partnership with CWU, EWU and WSU

NTPS Board of Directors also signed the data sharing agreement (DSA) and memorandum of understanding (MOU) with three universities in Washington to allow direct admission for qualified students.

The DSA and MOU would allow Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, and Washington State University to access high school students’ data in NTPS until August 31, 2022, to determine those who will meet their criteria for university admission.

As part of the Guaranteed Admission Pilot sponsored by the Washington State Council of Presidents, the project is seen to encourage more students to pursue higher education in the said universities.

Prior to these partnerships, the NTPS Board also has existing partnerships with Pacific Lutheran University, The Evergreen State College, and Western Washington University.

Goal 5 of NTPS' strategic plan is to increase the success rate of their students one to two years after graduation would be the primary goal of the partnerships

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