Georgia's top education official says state school districts don't have to comply with the Obama administration's recent guidance that transgender students at public schools be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

Superintendent Richard Woods noted in a letter released Friday that the directive "does not have the force of law."

Courts have issued mixed rulings on whether transgender people are protected by federal civil rights law. However, the directive from President Barack Obama's administration says schools refusing to comply could lose federal aid.

Woods said in the letter to school superintendents that his agency will "take appropriate action" if that happens.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this week asked Woods to provide guidance. Deal hasn't promised to take legal action as in other Republican-led states, however.