Our Response

This letter was sent to all school directors from from the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents in response to Obama's bathroom order.

Dear Directors, 

Early this morning, I was in conversation with the Governor's Office regarding their response to the "Dear Colleague" letter from the White House last Friday.  As you consider the impact of this letter on your district, I want to keep you as informed as possible with the latest information from our state's leadership.  

The following is the statement released by Governor Haslam's office:

“The White House itself has said what they issued last week is not an enforcement action and does not make any additional requirements under the law. Congress has the authority to write the law, not the executive branch, and we disagree with the heavy-handed approach the Obama administration is taking. Decisions on sensitive issues such as these should continue to be made at the local level based on the unique needs of students, families, schools and districts while working closely with the local school board counsel, understanding that this is an emerging area of law that will ultimately be settled by the courts.”

Senator Alexander's statement is as follows:

"This is the kind of issue that parents, school boards, communities, students and teachers should be allowed to work out in a practical way with a maximum amount of respect for the individual rights of all students. Insofar as the federal government goes, it's up to Congress to write the law, not the executive departments. And guidance issued by the departments does not amount to federal law and should not be treated as such."

As you might note, there is actually no change in existing federal law referenced in this letter.  After discussing this issue with counsel, it seems appropriate for districts to take the stance that their local governing body has the authority and responsibility to handle these issues as they see fit under the current guidelines of the law.  We encourage you to continue to refer to your local attorney if any new circumstances arrise around this issue.  However, it would seem reasonable that your current actions are appropriately serving the well-being and safety of all students within your district.  

As you continue to work to close this school year, we appreciate and respect your dedicated service to students.  

Thank you, 

Wayne Miller 

Executive Director