MYTH: ACAF Wants to Discriminate Against LGBTQ and Has Asked to Waive Out of Protections.
FACT: WRONG. ACAF is committed to serving all children and will protect the same students as Boulder Valley School District’s policy on non-discrimination. ACAF simply did not ask to waive protection for minority, free and reduced lunch-eligible, LGBTQ, and other students. The school has asked to handle discrimination complaints, which is expected of charter schools. The school is forbidden by law from discriminating against students and the Boulder Valley School District is well aware of this and this isn’t an issue.
Below is the language from ACAF Anti-Discrimination policy. Furthermore, a January 4, 2019, memo from the District Accountability Committee to the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education discusses the school’s proposed discrimination policy. The memo counts the policy as among the application’s “Strengths,” summarizing, “The application details the enrollment process, including the school’s proposed lottery system, priority system, and commitment to enrolling students regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, disability or need for special education services.”
The reference to “sexual orientation” has broad implications. A document on transgender students from the Colorado Department of Education states:
Colorado follows state anti-discrimination and civil rights laws and guidance. In 2008, Colorado passed a law (S.B. 08-200) expanding prohibitions against discrimination. The law calls out the need to protect all regardless of “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry” in all places of public accommodation. This law defines sexual orientation as “a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender status or another person’s perception thereof.”
ACAF Non-Discrimination Policy
“Ascent Classical Academy is committed to providing a safe learning and work environment where all members of the School community are treated with dignity and respect. The School is subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of any legally protected status, including disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Accordingly, no otherwise qualified student, employee applicant for employment or member of the public shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to unlawful discrimination under any School program or activity on the basis of any legally protected status, including disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Students, staff members, parents, or public who believe they have been subjected to intimidation, discrimination, physical harm, and/or harassment on the basis of any legally protected status must report the incident(s) immediately in accordance with School policies.”
Charter schools are created through waivers of statutes, rules, and policies. Ascent Classical Academy has requested a number of waivers from the Boulder Valley School District as well. For the most part, the school has agreed with the intent of a policy and simply requested the enforcement and adjudication be handled through the school, especially in cases where a policy ventures into processes that don’t apply to a charter school.
The waiver request to allow the school to handle discrimination complaints may sound alarming on the surface but the school was clear in the written request and in multiple public discussion with the Boulder Valley School District, that it agrees with the intent of the policy but needs to be involved in handling complaints.