The Florida Department of Education is ordering schools to alert parents if their children are forced to use bathrooms with students of the opposite sex following allegations that a biologically male transgender student sexually assaulted a girl in a Florida public school bathroom.
“We find this allegation deeply disturbing and troubling. Clearly, if Brevard Public Schools had commonsense policies that separate bathrooms and locker rooms by biological sex at birth, this incident would not have been possible,” Alex Lanfranconi, Director Of Communications at the Florida Department of Education, told The Daily Wire on Thursday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, some districts choose wokeness over the safety of their students,” Lanfranconi said. “The Florida Department of Education will continue to take all steps within its power to protect parental rights and student safety by developing rules that will notify parents if their children are at risk of exposure to these types of situations.”
The statement comes after Republican Florida State Rep. Randy Fine publicized reports of an alleged transgender sexual assault incident at Brevard Public Schools.
“We should be able to trust Brevard Government Schools to put our children first,” Fine said in a Facebook post. “To not hide criminal activity that hurts our children. Brevard Government Schools should have openly and transparently addressed the concerns of these parents. But they refused, and even worse, gaslighted the public when I brought the issue to light.”
“We should not be surprised,” he continued, “they believe boys should use the girls’ bathroom.”
Parents who reported the incident to Fine initially said that the incident occurred at Johnson Middle School, the state lawmaker said, sparking strong denials from school officials. But Fine told The Daily Wire in a phone interview on Thursday that in actuality, the alleged incident took place at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School.
Brevard Public Schools spokesperson Russell Bruhn initially denied Fine’s reports, saying, “There was no attack. No victim, no witness, no parents coming forward, nothing. Rep. Fine owes our staff at Johnson Middle School an apology for making this baseless allegation.”
But on Thursday, Fine obtained and publicized redacted police case reports indicating that a girl had told someone with an office at the school that she was sexually assaulted by a transgender student on June 20.
The biologically male student denied touching the girl’s breasts, according to the case report, but admitted to being in the bathroom with her.
That unnamed person named in the police report then reported the incident to police on June 21, according to the documents, which made clear that officials at the school (specifically Vice Principal Peter Andy Papczynski) were aware of the alleged incident as early as June.
Bruhn told The Daily Wire on Thursday afternoon that “the incident at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School was reported by the school to the Sheriff’s Office, Florida DCF and our Title IX partner.”
“All three investigated the claims and all three closed their cases with no action,” he said. “What was described in the Sheriff’s Office report is an incident that lead to no charges being filed. My quotes were in reference to a false allegation that a student had been raped at a different school.”
Bruhn also said that the district was aware of the incident at the time he made the remarks denying an incident at Johnson Middle School, but said they could not discuss the case without “violating FERPA, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
“And again, the actual case and the fabricated cases are different,” he added.
— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) August 11, 2022
According to the partially redacted Brevard County Sheriff’s office case report, on June 20, 2022 around noon, the biologically male transgender student allegedly went into the women’s restroom at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High school and “fondled” the female student’s breasts “against her will and without her permission.”
Fine said in a letter to the Florida Department of Education that the biological male was taking advantage of “the open bathrooms policy championed by School Board Chairwoman Misty Belford and fellow School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins.”
“She has told him previously to stop touching her and she wanted to press charges because she felt violated,” the case report said, noting that the female student “advised she does not feel comfortable using the same bathroom with the transgender male.”
Brevard County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire.
According to Fine, the parents who have inquired into the matter have been “stonewalled at every turn.”
Fine insisted in his Facebook post that “this isn’t someone else’s problem.”
“It is our own,” he said. “It is why I personally feel each parent’s fear and anger when they come to me. I am a politician last. I am a parent first. They can attack me all they want, but I will never stop fighting for my children – and yours. Never.”
Florida’s new rule, which will be announced Thursday evening, places new policies for parental notification regarding the designation of bathrooms and locker rooms. Under that rule, any policies adopted by a school district for bathrooms and locker rooms must firstly ensure the health, safety, and welfare of Florida’s students, be consistent with the state’s Parental Bill of Rights, and protect the privacy of education records and the privacy of students and parents.
The state’s Board of Education rules supersede any district policies, a spokesman said.
“If a school district has a policy that allows for separation of bathrooms or locker rooms according to some criteria other than biological sex at birth, the policy must be posted on the district’s website to fully inform parents,” the rule states.
It also requires that the policy must include a “method of student supervision provided for locker rooms, for example a coach or aide,” such as “which locker rooms are not separated by biological sex at birth,” and “which bathrooms are not separated by biological sex at birth.”
“District policies must include accommodations or modifications in order to ensure that all students have a comparable opportunity to use a bathroom or locker room separated by biological sex at birth,” the rule adds.
“For me, education policy is not political,” Fine said in a Facebook post that included screenshots of the case report. “It is personal. I live it every day with two boys who live inside that education system. I am a government school graduate; both my parents taught at government schools. The arc of my life could never have happened without the education I received from extraordinary teachers.”
“But I stay up at night worried that our children today aren’t getting the education I did,” he continued. “My family was forced to engage in mandatory mask COVID theater by school board members who refused to wear them at the grocery store, the gym, and at their private parties. My family has to worry about critical race theory, transgender ideology, and pronoun idiocy working its way into education.”