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School District Files Report With FBI Over Alleged ’Threats’ After Parents Criticize Transgender Locker Room Policy

  • An Arizona school board filed a report with the FBI over alleged threats after the district halted families from criticizing a policy allowing transgender students in the locker room of their choice.
  • The district was set to have a meeting on April 25 but canceled it due to concerns of alleged threats made to the district, according to a Facebook post from the CFSD account.
  • “What [the board] ‘interpreted’ as a threat we now know was not a threat,” CFSD parent Bart Pemberton told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) filed a report with the FBI after receiving backlash from families about a policy allowing transgender students to use whatever bathroom or locker room they prefer, according to a statement given to the Daily Caller News Foundation from a CFSD spokesperson.

CFSD, located in Tucson, Arizona, has been at odds with parents for months after it was revealed that the district had an “unwritten policy” allowing students who identified as transgender to use the locker room or bathroom of their preference, while students who are uncomfortable with the policy are forced to request to use separate facilities. The district was set to have a meeting on April 25 but canceled it due to concerns about alleged “threats” to the board, according to a Facebook post from the CFSD account.

An incident report, obtained by the DCNF, was filed with the Pima County Sheriff’s Office on April 25 by a local attorney and CFSD parent who was concerned about a comment made in a Facebook group, Catalina Foothills School District Concerned Citizens, regarding the upcoming board meeting. The comment read, “They’re all ready and planning! They canceled the awards for seniors!! Stay Strong! And let’s come in hot,” according to a screenshot obtained by the DCNF.

The woman said she “was concerned they were going to have firearms” and the incident report goes on to explain that the department had already planned on monitoring the event with several “off-duty officers,” but was later told that they were not needed after the board meeting was canceled.

Julie Farbarik, director of Alumni & Community Relations for CFSD, told the DCNF the district got in touch with the FBI after ‘multiple’ threats.

“The April 25 meeting was canceled due to multiple threats and acts of intimidation,” Farbarik said. “A local group is promoting the false narrative that one online posting prompted the cancellation. We not only sought the help of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department about how to handle the situation but also made a report to the F.B.I.”

Farbarik declined to explain if the Facebook comment was one of the threats reported to the FBI, saying that “we are not disclosing publicly any details about the threats and acts of intimidation.” An FBI spokesperson told the DCNF that “as a matter of policy, the FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.”

The meeting was later rescheduled for April 28 via live stream, but according to Dan Grossenbach, a parent of a student at Catalina Foothills High School and the founder of the CFSD Concerned Citizens, parents were not notified that the meeting had been rescheduled nor that the district had filed an FBI report.

Farbarik told the DCNF that parents were informed of the new meeting time but did not explain how they were told. She also said that the April 28 agenda did not have a public comments section since it “is not legally required because the Board needed to take care of the district’s business that was interrupted due to the cancellation of the April 25 meeting.”

Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. but will only be live-streamed on YouTube. Grossenbach told the DCNF that his group is hosting a “pizza party outside the locked doors to show how silly this all is.”

Bart Pemberton, another parent of a student in the district, gave the DCNF a copy of the remarks he plans to make during the meeting, if allowed.

“We are all here tonight because we love our children, especially those of us who have school-aged children,” Pemberton wrote. “Whenever a significant policy decision is made without widespread knowledge and consent, and when that decision will not be discussed in a public forum by those who have implemented the policy, it can lead to confusion, consternation, and mistrust. Part of the way to alleviate the current contentious atmosphere would be for all of us to remember that we are all here because we love our children. Finally, we can do our best to discuss the pressing issues facing our schools in a professional and loving manner in the proper public forum of a school board meeting.”

Pemberton asked the board to accept the demands of a petition signed by nearly 200 members of the district that would require the board to put a topic on the agenda if 100 or more parents formally submit a request with their signatures asking to “discuss and ultimately vote on [the] item of concern.”

“What you ‘interpreted’ as a threat we know was not a threat,” Pemberton wrote. “We’ve seen the police report. You owe it to your constituents to resume in-person meetings. You are now providing more security for yourselves than you do for the entire student body of CFSD!”

Farbarik told the DCNF that the district has no intention of reconsidering its nondiscrimination policy despite parents’ objections.

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