The Ketchikan School Board had an apparent philosophical divide Wednesday over whether to add “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination employment policy.

There wasn’t much discussion, though, so the reasons board members voted yes or no were not clear.

The board policy governs how the district and its employees treat current employees and job applicants. The proposed policy states that the district will not discriminate based on sex, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, physical and mental disability, Vietnam-era veteran status, genetic information, or good-faith reporting to the board on a matter of public concern.

Some wording on the policy had changed to update it for legal reasons, which was why it came before the board for approval. Board Member Alma Parker proposed amending the policy further.

“I move that we amend Policy 4030 to include the word ‘sexual orientation’ after ‘changes in marital status,’” she said. 

Her amendment failed, though, in a 3-2 vote with no discussion. Board President Trevor Shaw and Board Member Glen Thompson voted against the motion. Parker and Board Members Diane Gubatayao and Kim Hodne voted yes.

Motions must receive at least four votes to pass, and two members were absent on Wednesday.

When the board then voted on the main motion, it failed in a 2-3 vote. Parker, Gubatayao and Shaw voted no.

Superintendent Robert Boyle told the board that not approving the policy would cause problems.

“Administration will be hampered by not having that policy passed,” he said. “It will cause us issues within personnel.”

So, Shaw – who voted on the prevailing side – moved to reconsider the motion. He noted that it would come back to the board for a second reading. At that time, amendments could be offered.

The policy passed unanimously in reconsideration.

In other matters, the board postponed action on creating a Native Education Committee. There was concern that goals and objectives were not yet defined. Some members also said they were interested in creating a larger cultural-diversity committee instead, with subcommittees to represent individual groups.

The next Ketchikan School Board meeting is June 13th.