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Staff reassigned at Florida school after allegations that transgender student played on girls' team

By AP | Nov 29, 2023

Students from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Fla., walk out of the school building Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in support of a transgender student who plays on the girls volleyball team. The school principal and other administrators were removed from their positions for allowing the student to participate in the activity. Florida passed a law prohibiting transgendered girls to play on female sports teams. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (AP) — Dozens of students participated in a walkout at a South Florida high school on Tuesday, a day after their principal and four other staff members were removed from their positions as officials investigate allegations of a transgender student being allowed to play on a girls’ volleyball team, in violation of state law.

The demonstration occurred at Monarch High School in Broward County. Local news footage shows a large crowd of students walking out of the school building and congregating outside on school property.

The school district on Monday reassigned principal James Cecil, assistant principal Kenneth May, athletic director Dione Hester and information management technician Jessica Norton to non-school sites pending the outcome of the investigation. Also, temporary athletic coach Alex Burgess was told his services are paused while the investigation proceeds.

“We will continue to follow state law and will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation,” school district spokesman John Sullivan said in a statement. “We are committed to providing all our students with a safe and inclusive learning environment.”

In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president as a Republican, signed a state law that bars transgender girls and women from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes identified as girls at birth.

Broward Schools Superintendent Peter Licata said during a news conference Tuesday that a member of the community had made a complaint about the student athlete last week. When questioned by reporters, Licata denied that the reassignments had anything to do with a lawsuit the student and her parents had previously brought against the school. A federal judge ruled against the student earlier this month.