The controversial and nationally-publicized standoff between Palatine-based District 211 and the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) came to a temporary end in early December 2015, when the District approved a resolution agreement with OCR stemming from a transgender student’s 2013 complaint that the District discriminated against her by not allowing her to use the girls’ locker room. The agreement was formed following contentious discussions and negotiations between the District and OCR, which included OCR threatening to pull federal funding from the District unless the student was allowed full access to the girls’ locker room. OCR also issued findings stating that the District violated federal law when it denied the student access to the girls’ locker room; marking the first time OCR has found a school district in violation of civil rights laws over transgender issues.
Ultimately, the resolution agreement provides in part that the student will be allowed access to the girls’ locker room provided she use “privacy curtains” when changing. Following the District’s approval of the agreement, OCR reportedly characterized the agreement as allowing for unrestricted access to the locker room, and representing a policy that would apply District-wide to all transgender students. The District disagreed with this characterization and ultimately convened a special board meeting to consider rescinding the agreement due to what it believed to be a “bad-faith” characterization of its terms by OCR. However, following a clarifying statement issued by OCR that the agreement applies only to the specific student, and a lengthy public comments session at the special board meeting, the District declined to vote on whether the agreement should rescinded, leaving the agreement in place.
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