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School Superintendent Richard Woods issued guidance today to school districts
regarding the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague Letter.” Earlier this
week, Governor Nathan Deal asked Superintendent Woods to “provide guidance to
those local school systems seeking assistance and clarity on this issue in
order to ensure that there will be as much uniformity across our state as
possible.” The below email was sent to all school district superintendents.
this link to read Superintendent Woods’ previous public statement regarding the
“Dear Colleague Letter.”
On Friday, the
U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint “Dear Colleague
Letter” regarding the rights of transgender students in the K-12 education
We at the
Georgia Department of Education believe the "Dear Colleague Letter"
openly violates, misinterprets and moves to rewrite established U.S. law. This
overreach of power by the Executive Branch of the federal government is
compounded by the threat to withhold federal funds should the context of the
letter not be followed.
guidance does not have the force of law, you are not required to comply with
this directive or make changes to your established actions and policies.
However, if the federal government does decide to withhold federal funds,
enforce this directive, or bring suit against any district in Georgia because
of a decision a local district makes, we will work with all parties to take
The doctrine of
"local control" is deeply rooted in our constitution and laws here in
Georgia, and I am confident that you, as the superintendent of your district,
along with your board of education and with counsel and support from your local
board attorney, will continue to appropriately address concerns surrounding
this complex and sensitive matter.
fundamental elements in all public schools, including a safe school environment
and an appropriate response to the needs of individual students. Those two
elements are essential and compatible and are the responsibility of local
priority is to ensure our schools are a safe environment for students. I
believe there are safety and privacy concerns associated with allowing students
of different genders to use the same bathroom and locker rooms. For that
reason, I do not believe a student of another gender should use a restroom or
locker room alongside students of the opposite sex.
In closing, I
wish to thank you and the staff in your districts and schools for your
excellent work and commitment to your children. Our priority in Georgia is to
provide all children with the opportunity to receive a great education, and we
should not allow federal politics to distract us from that priority.