By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall
Several parents have informed me about the “bathroom issues” at Lake County’s Riverside High School. Unfortunately, this issue has been a huge problem for many, many years, and the prior administration and School Board members have done nothing to secure the privacy and protection of the children.
Here is a video of concerned taxpayer, Amy Zuren, speaking on this issue at a November School Board.
We sent the following email to Riverside’s Superintendent Dr. Chris Rateno. The Superintendent has been recently hired by the current School Board, so the bathroom issues are not of his making. However, it has been dumped in his lap to solve the problem.
We are very concerned about the Riverside High School bathroom issues that have been recently exposed publicly to the taxpayers. Quite frankly, we are appalled at the School Board’s lack of attention to this issue, and their, seemingly, lack of concern for the safety and privacy of the children. What has transpired over the years should not be acceptable to anyone in the school’s administration, or the School Board. We understand that you are new to the Superintendent’s position, and we certainly do not hold you accountable for prior years.
Our question is regarding the rules and regulations promulgated by the Ohio Revised Code and/or the Ohio Department of Education. Can you please provide us with the Ohio Revised Code section(s) or the Ohio Department of Education ruling(s) on bathroom policies, standards, or bathroom rights for children that are requirements for all Ohio public schools to follow.
Here is Dr. Rateno’s timely response:
Dear Mr. Massie,
Respectfully, the state of the district facilities have been, and continue to be a priority to the Board of Education and administration as referenced by the recent bond issue for new facilities in May of 2022, comprehensive facilities condition assessment recently completed by Bialosky Cleveland, and specific mention of the the creation and implementation of a facilities plan in the district Strategic Plan. The majority of the December 4, 2023 special meeting will be to review the Bialosky Cleveland Assessments and begin the process of creating a new facilities plan incorporating both community input and the new information from the Bialosky reports.
The Riverside Local School District Does not have a board of education policy that addresses restroom use for students and/or staff. In regards to specific rights and access issues, the district does follow Policy 5517 Anti-Harassment, which states, “The Board will vigorously enforce its prohibition against discriminatory harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, age (except as authorized by law), religion, ancestry, or genetic information (collectively, “Protected Classes”) that are protected by Federal civil rights laws (hereinafter referred to as unlawful harassment), …”
As we deal with access situations, we work on an individual case by case basis, to make sure all students feel safe, comfortable, and free from harassment. Restroom accommodations, including the use of private facilities for students, are provided based on individual meetings, needs, and protected class.