Washington County School Board considers policy on gendered bathroom use 

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As part of numerous proposed changes to come into line with state legislation, the Washington County School Board is considering only allowing students to use school bathrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate.

A public hearing was held to consider the potential new policy on Monday, Jan. 8. The School Board did not vote on or even discuss the policy, though can officially approve the new rule during an upcoming board meeting.

Troy Peoples, director of administrative services for the Washington County School District, said the local policy comes from the Safety in Private Spaces Act, which took effect in July 2023. Schools are legally required to follow suit.

Washington County schools do not have transgender bathrooms, Peoples said in response to comments from community member Larry Zezula voicing his support for the policy.

Other proposed new policies include rules governing the use of artificial intelligence for educational purposes and prohibiting TikTok on school devices. The AI policy allows teachers to use AI for educational purposes and states AI “may also be helpful for students with generating ideas, topics, and writing prompts.”

“Generative AI is not a substitute for human creativity, judgment and creation,” the policy said. “Supervisors must be notified when AI is being used to complete a task.”

People said AI is “one of these things you’re hearing more and more about.”

Analysis and peer review of AI use will be required to protect against violation of intellectual property, privacy, and District policy.

“Do not upload employee or student records, names, addresses, etc.,” the policy said. “Do not integrate AI tools with District software. Do not use AI for employment decisions about applicants or employees.”

Students are advised to “be aware that they are potentially sharing personal data with AI bots” when using AI programs.

“AI programs can have implicit bias, and even present incorrect information. Students should acknowledge that AI is not always factually accurate, nor seen as a credible source, and should be able to provide evidence to support  its claims,” the policy said. “All users must also be aware of the potential for bias and discrimination in AI tools and applications. If a student is using an AI program they need to think critically and be sure to fact-check using primary sources.”

ChatGPT will not be allowed to be used for essays or submitted papers.

“Should AI be used in any capacity, the student must acknowledge the use of AI related to their school work: attributing AI text, image, multimedia, etc. when using them in your school work,” the policy said. “The use of AI could be subject to the Academic Dishonesty Policy.

Students will not be permitted to use AI to avoid doing their own work or use AI when a teacher has “expressly forbidden” doing so. 

“This is just kind of getting ahead of it and getting a platform in place on how to deal with artificial intelligence so it’s not used to plagiarize and all that,” Peoples said. “I anticipate this policy, in the upcoming years, probably every time we meet, we’ll be tweaking it. As it develops, as things change, it’s going to be constantly moving.” 

Other proposed District policy changes include no longer randomly drug testing employees (though there will still be drug testing for pre-employment and reasonable suspicion) and not accepting contributions from tobacco companies.

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