School board, law enforcement

The school board thanks local law enforcement.

Staff in the Hudson School District will no longer be able to address gender diverse students by their preferred names and pronouns should they differ from those in the district’s technology system without informing parents. 

“If a student confides with a staff member regarding their gender identity, the staff member would not be required to contact parents or refer the child to a different staff member.

However, if a student requests the use of using a different name or pronoun aligned with their gender identity, our counselors will work with them to help them develop the skills and readiness to speak to their family about their wishes. Until we have parental consent, we will continue to use the name provided by families in our student information system,” the board-approved directive states. 

Hudson Board of Education member Rob Brown asked Superintendent Nick Ouellette if comments were gathered from staff, counselors and students that may be affected by this direction. 

The answer was no. 

Administration, with guidance from the district’s attorney, comments from numerous people in the community and board members, have come up with a policy for staff when presented with a student exploring or affirming their gender identity at school. 

This lack of engagement ultimately led to Brown’s “no” vote on the proposal. 

“Parents should be involved at all steps of the conversation,” one speaker said during public comment. Just five people spoke at the Monday, Jan. 9, meeting in the Hudson High School auditorium, on the agenda item, four of whom had similar issues with it. 

The lack of clarification on students' age and the timeline in which parents would be informed of these conversations with staff and counselors, caused concern. 

“We don’t lie to parents and that is our expectation,” Ouellette said. 

Board of Education Treasurer Heather Logelin countered this with a statement: “We shouldn’t lie to students either.”

Logelin expressed disappointment as she expected to see additional changes to the directive following last month’s meeting, including clarification that individual teachers may choose to honor students' names and pronouns at any time. 

This stipulation would have  included language expressing strong preference for students to communicate these changes with their parents. 

“I can’t vote for this as it’s written,” she said. And she didn’t. 

This “no win” situation was approved by the legal council and as board President Jamie Johnson put it in reference to his conversation with the attorney, doesn’t put the district on the “weaker legal footing.” 

Allowing gender diverse students to make those decisions without parental consent, he said, would put the district at greater litigation risk. 

Everyone would like to see situations where parents are a child's biggest cheerleader, Logelin said. 

“My guess is that parents who spoke tonight have great relationships with their kids. This isn’t about those kids,” she said. Loegelin explained her advocacy for the rare students that need a bit of flexibility in the school system in order to navigate their home lives and identity. 

This was met with applause from many of the 20-some community members in attendance. 

Snow day replacements

After numerous snow days in early 2023, the school district has decided to add additional school days. 

School districts are required to meet a minimum number of hours each school year. 

“In addition to the minimum requirements, we want to make sure we are spending the instructional time we need with our students for their academic success,” states the schools memorandum.  

The two snow days in December will not be made up, but the Jan. 4 snow day will be made up. School will be in session Feb. 24. 

Should additional inclement weather days occur, makeup days will be April 7, a pre-scheduled professional development day which would be rescheduled, and June 9, what would otherwise be the first day of summer. 

If there are more than two inclement weather days, time will be added to the end of days, eliminating early release. 

The school district has not used virtual learning as an option for snow days, because there is not alone to one, device to student ratio in grades 4K through 12. The district also knows that there are many families who do not have internet access. 

In the past during the pandemic, there was an effort to make sure each student had a device and internet access, but that is no longer the case. The district is not currently paying for all of the mobile hotspots necessary to substitute inclement weather days with virtual learning days. 

Quick hits

  • Current Board of Education members Carrie Whitacre and Heather Logelin have filed to run for reelection. Community members Megan Rozowski, Randy Lawson and Erin Gerlach have filed to run for the board. A primary will be held Feb. 21. The top four candidates will then be placed on the April 4 ballot. 

  • Since January 2020, the board has not limited open enrollment, other than special education programming, due to the current programming options as well as space available in buildings. Similarly, this year it is the administration's recommendation to continue that plan of action, not to limit open enrollment spaces, other than for special education programming, for the 2023-24 school year. 

  • The school board recognized law enforcement appreciation day, welcoming Hudson Chief of Police Geoffrey Willems, village of North Hudson Chief of Police Mark Richert and St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson. 

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