The Siren Board of Education hosted a presentation from half a dozen high school students who raised concerns about aspects of the district dress code that they deemed too restrictive and unnecessary during the Regular monthly council meeting, held on Tuesday, September 21. .
Students raised concerns about aspects of the dress code that specifically cites hooded sweatshirts, commonly referred to as “hoodies,” and hats or other headwear.
The Siren School District dress code listed in the 2021-2022 student manual specifically stated what was not allowed: a school activity (except prescribed by a physician for medical or documented religious reasons.) “
The rest of the dress code covers things like “gang symbols”, profanity, etc. that are not allowed on clothing or in logos, as well as specific mention of “revealing” clothing, such as dresses, tops and underwear and how they should not be visible or leave certain areas of skin exhibited.
The dress code also describes the procedure for a student to be in violation, starting with a staff member’s objection, changing their clothes, contacting a parent and even possibly forcing the student. to leave school to change clothes. If the violation continues, how, ultimately, if he or she refuses to change the “offensive” item or clothing, they may be suspended from school.
The five students who spoke – Ciera Oiyotte, Lee Belisle, Frankie Bildeau, Sophia Sutton and Margret ‘Johnson pointed to a student survey that suggested that more than 95% of high school students polled were in favor of a policy change to allow hats and hoodies, with several also indicating that the use of masks last year was not a real problem.
Staff then addressed the dress code with several proposed changes that would allow hats and hoodies, but keep the rest of the code intact.
The administration’s concerns about the hoodies appeared to be related to security concerns and have repeatedly mentioned that if a student’s head is covered, they may not be able to identify it if they is involved in an incident, such as a fight or vandalism, which can be seen in security footage.
“I admit that most of the time I don’t look at their heads, I look at everything else (to identify them),” said manager Darrell Imhoff.
There have been several comments that wearing such items may not be a ‘rebellious act’, but may be a kind of way to cope with social anxiety, self-perception issues and emotions. , and that some students feel more secure with such articles. as part of their wardrobe.
“There may be aspects of mental health,” said Native American coordinator Tara Voss. “Some of them can shut themselves off from the world.”
The board seemed to agree that the tight dress code was at least worth trying.
“We’ve been through an entire year of (visual) masks with few issues,” said board chair Peggy Moore.
Ultimately, the board of directors voted unanimously to adjust the dress code to allow “hats and other headgear – must allow the face to be visible to staff and not interfere with dress. line of sight of a student or staff member. Hoodies must allow school staff to be visible on the face, ”reads the new dress code, also adding a paragraph that all headgear must conform to the stipulations of no obscene or offensive logos . Sunglasses are still not allowed unless prescribed by a doctor.
“I’m really proud that they (the students) have gone through the right channels,” Principal Imhoff said. “It says a lot about the fact that they worked together and talked to the board. “
The approved dress code change will be on a one-year trial basis, with a review before next fall.
• The council also presented the results of a recently noted mental health grant, which will allow the district up to $ 74,000 per year for the next two years, particularly for hiring and health-related programs. mental.
• Several donations were accepted and noted with thanks, including $ 1,900 from Siren Lion’s Club, which will be used for women’s volleyball, men’s football and other merchandise programs.
Christopher and Katie Tewalt also donated $ 500 to the district, specifically to pay off the lunch debts of several classes, leaving about $ 75 in unpaid lunch debts.
• The Board of Directors congratulated the kitchen team and staff for a complimentary report prepared by the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCAP), which produced a report. “surprise” inspection on September 16, with the district receiving not only a grade but praise in the report, which noted that the facility is “compliant – the kitchen is extremely clean.”
The staff had no idea of the surprise inspection but succeeded with flying colors. “They were ready, but had no idea it was coming,” said district administrator Dr Kevin Shetler. “We were very compliant! “
• There have been long discussions about the future of the Dragon Learning Center after-school program, which has been used regularly by more than three dozen young students but suffers from staff shortages issues, which may affect the future of the school. program. They hope to involve some of the most interested high school students in the program and continue to seek volunteer helpers.
• There was a long discussion about how more students than usual are late or miss the vaccinations that are needed, in part because of pandemic protocols last year, and how some of the usual vaccines against tetanus, mumps, measles, diphtheria, and rubella have not been kept up to date and may be in violation of state laws.
“If we leave some (students) in the school without them (vaccines) then we are subjecting other children to possible disease and they might get it,” Principal Wayne Koball said.
The board of directors voted unanimously to support state vaccine compliance laws.