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A committee wanted mom of transgender student suspended. The superintendent wants her fired.

A committee found reason to discipline a Monarch High employee who is also the mom of a transgender athlete but didn’t want her to be fired, newly released district documents show.

The district’s Professional Standards Committee, made of principals and administrators, voted March 20 to recommend a 10-day suspension for Jessica Norton, an information specialist and a junior varsity volleyball coach at the Coconut Creek school.

But that recommendation was overruled — at least temporarily.

Then-Superintendent Peter Licata and Human Resources Chief David Azzarito decided March 26 to recommend termination. Current Superintendent Howard Hepburn upheld the recommendation.

The School Board is expected to decide June 18 whether to approve Hepburn’s recommendation. The board could decide instead to approve a more lenient discipline or no discipline at all.

Norton is accused of violating the state law passed in 2021 known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which bans students who are born male from competing on female sports teams in public schools. While Norton was a district employee, her daughter played volleyball at Monarch for two seasons and played volleyball and soccer at Lyons Creek Middle in Coconut Creek.

The records from the investigation don’t say the specific reasons the Professional Standards Committee came up with its recommendation for a suspension. Nor does it say why Licata and Hepburn wanted the harsher punishment.

“Each case is reviewed and evaluated independently,” district spokesman John Sullivan told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

But documents about the investigation of Norton, released Wednesday, do reveal findings from the district’s Special Investigative Unit that likely prompted the recommendation of “just cause” for discipline.

Among the district’s allegations:

— Norton asked in 2017, before she was an employee, to have her child’s sex changed in district records, which investigators said was a violation of policy. Once she became an employee, she failed to let the district know the gender information was inaccurate, the report said.

— Norton “admitted that she submitted incorrect documents” to Lyons Creek, listing her daughter as female on an athletic form, even though the child’s birth certificate at the time said male. The birth certificate was legally changed to female a few months later.

— Norton admitted she was aware that the state law related to girls’ sports took effect in July 2021 but still registered her child in female athletics after that, the district said.

— While coaching the junior varsity team and assisting the varsity team, “she knew that a biological male was playing female sports,” contrary to Florida law, leading to a $16,500 fine and other sanctions against Monarch from the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Investigators asked her why, in her role as coach, she didn’t reveal that her child was born male.

“Because she’s a female. She identifies as a girl; her birth certificate says female. … So, the only way that I would know as a coach was because I am her parent,” she responded.

Norton told investigators that the sex of her daughter was changed at Winston Park Elementary during the 2016-17 year. She said then-Superintendent Robert Runcie said at an LGBTQ roundtable that parents could request such changes for transgender children. Investigators said this change was done without any supporting documentation.

When detectives asked her why she submitted “false information” about her child’s gender on an athletic form in 2021, Norton responded, “Because that’s what’s reflected in the school board. … Because as far as the Broward County Schools was concerned, she was in the system as a female.”

Lawyers for Norton submitted to the district a 13-page response to the investigation, which was not included in the investigative file provided to the Sun Sentinel through a public records request. But Norton’s lawyers provided a copy to the newspaper. She is being represented by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ rights group.

The letter said Norton was a volunteer coach who had “no role, responsibility, or authority in the try-out and selection process … nor in running any practices or coaching in games.”  Her main roles were providing snacks, organizing celebrations and handling clerical duties.

The letter also questioned why many issues relate to Norton’s role as a parent, rather than an employee, and some happened before she even started working for the district.

“It is unclear how actions Ms. Norton took as a parent, before she was ever an employee of the District, could be relevant to potential corrective action designed to improve or change her job performance,” the letter said.

While the legal remedy under the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” is for someone who has been harmed to be able to sue the district, the investigation found no evidence that any student was harmed, the lawyers wrote.

“Not one of the students who were interviewed were aggrieved by having a transgender teammate,” the lawyers wrote. “The only evidence of student harm here is with respect to [Norton’s child], who, as a result of the callous and reckless manner in which the investigation was announced, was publicly outed, became the subject of unnecessary media scrutiny and was displaced from her school community due to fears for her safety and well-being.”

The district did not identify the child who was at the center of the investigation but did confirm that Norton was under investigation, so many people at Monarch knew who the student was.

Administrators and athletic directors from Monarch and Lyons Creek also were investigated, but ultimately cleared by the district, with most of those employees saying they didn’t have direct knowledge the student was a transgender girl. Monarch Principal James Cecil told investigators Norton had mentioned to him her child was transgender, but he thought the student was female but transitioning to be a male.

“I was waiting for her to become a boy,” Cecil told investigators.

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