- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

The exodus from Rocklin Academy, where a teacher read two books about transgender ideology to her kindergarten class last June, is accelerating after the school’s board voted down a policy that would have given parents notifications prior to controversial classroom discussions.

Now, as many as 73 children from 41 families have withdrawn from the highly regarded Sacramento-area charter school, according to Karen England, executive director of the pro-family Capitol Resource Institute.

“Those are only the ones we know,” said Ms. England, who partnered with Rocklin families to stump for a parental notification policy. “There are several that are not saying anything because the administration and teachers have been all over social media calling parents ‘bigots,’ ‘hate speech,’ ‘verbal violence.’ And so the parents are concerned.”

Elizabeth Ashford, a spokesperson for Rocklin Academy, disputed those figures. As of Monday, she said only 29 children from 14 families have indicated on disenrollment forms that they were leaving the school because of the transgender lesson.

“I can’t speak to the motivations of families who didn’t indicate the reason,” Ms. Ashford said. “People move schools for a lot of reasons.”

The school’s more conservative figures are still up dramatically from earlier this month, when Rocklin Academy told The Washington Times that only 7 children had been pulled out in response to the incident.

One mother said she left Rocklin Academy not because of the lesson on transgender ideology, but because of the school’s dismissive attitude toward parents who were concerned about it.

“This isn’t about a book,” she said in a statement to The Washington Times. “It is about a school administration that doesn’t value parents as partners, doesn’t value truth, and ultimately doesn’t value the well-being of all children at the school.”

Rocklin Academy Gateway is the largest of four schools in the Rocklin Academy charter school district, with just under 1,300 students. The school boasts a waiting list of more than 1,300 and is considered one of the best in the region.

Last June, a kindergarten teacher read her class two books espousing a progressive view of gender identity: “I Am Jazz,” by the transgender reality TV star Jazz Jennings, and “Red: A Crayon’s Story,” about a blue crayon that identifies as a red crayon. “I Am Jazz” is on the California Department of Education’s Recommended Literature List for grades K-2.

The books were read at the prompting of the parents of a male student in the class who, at some point that day, reportedly changed into a dress and was presented to his classmates as a girl.

Parents were not notified about the lesson and only learned about it when their children came home from school that day. Some parents reported that their children were afraid they would turn into a different sex.

On Monday, the Rocklin Academy school board rejected a policy proposed by the Capitol Resource Institute that would have notified parents before classroom discussions on “gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, harassment, bullying, intimidation, relationships, or family.”

Instead, the board reaffirmed its existing literature policy and made revisions to the parent/teacher handbook, stating that teachers will “endeavor” to notify parents before or after controversial subjects are discussed in the classroom. In some cases, however, to notify parents about such discussions would violate “student privacy rights,” the policy says.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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