ST. CLOUD — For the remainder of the school year, high school students in the St. Cloud School District will be able to wear head coverings at school — a move seen as a victory for beleaguered staff and students struggling with the pandemic.
Last week, the school board unanimously approved allowing students in grades 6 through 12 to wear hats, including rags, balaclavas and baseball caps, until the end of the quarter on a trial basis on the proposed new policy.
Some believe that the old policy was discriminatory to begin with. It prohibits all head coverings except for students undergoing chemotherapy or other medical conditions, or for students practicing a religious belief, such as wearing the hijab.
The purpose of the policy, he states, is “to enhance student education by establishing expectations for dress and grooming” tied to educational goals and “community standards.”
But many neighborhoods — including most in the Twin Cities metro as well as neighborhoods adjacent to St. Cloud de Sartell and Sauk Rapids — allow hats.
The goal, according to Anoka-Hennepin School District spokesperson Jim Skelly, is to focus on positive behavior rather than confronting students with relatively minor issues that can escalate into negative situations.
Teachers at St. Cloud Schools have raised similar concerns since returning to in-person classes this year, telling leaders they are spending an exhausting time talking to students about hat removal, which takes time to to learn.
“Teachers said it was a problem for us: we don’t want to keep engaging with it when so many other things are happening: learning recovery, anxiety, mental health,” Laurie said. Putnam, assistant superintendent of secondary and incoming education. Superintendent.
Putnam took the issue to the school board in December and again in January. Board member Les Green said he thinks the community norm always involves people taking their hats off indoors to be respectful.
Green, who is black, also said he was concerned that allowing students to wear balaclavas and rags would give credit to black students bullying other black students for “acting white” if they choose not to wear headgear associated with black culture.
Green said he was concerned some students might conform to “acting black,” which he described as “wearing hats, hoodies, and rags, using speech patterns that feign ignorance and [using] exaggerated walking styles. These characteristics, Green said, will lead to poor job interviews and racial profiling in stores, which could “cripple them for life,” he said.
“I know a lot of people weren’t happy with what Dr. Green said,” Apollo High junior Bren Olson said. He said that after the January meeting, Apollo students walked out of class to sign a dress code policy petition.
A few hundred students and community members have also signed an online petition saying the policy itself is discriminatory because it prohibits rags and bonnets – often worn by people of color to protect or style their hair – but allows bobby pins and headbands.
“Rags and beanies have always been a part of black culture, but they’re not always worn as much in public spaces. Now the cultural norms have shifted,” said St. Cloud sophomore Etenesh Bonitto. Tech. “Caring for black hair takes time. As black college students, we don’t have time every morning to do a full hairstyle. Putting on a rag or scarf will make it look like we’re better prepared for the day. school and we will feel more comfortable.”
Green said he disagreed that the community standard for indoor hats had changed, but said he was ready to vote to allow the ban on hats to be temporarily lifted. hats if it reduced power struggles between teachers and students.
Putnam said she hopes the council continues the conversation, noting that it’s hard to set the “community standard” in a diverse, multi-generational community.
“Is it the community of our students who experience the politics we have established? Are they the people who have the loudest voice? Are they communities typically or historically marginalized or underserved?” she asked. “I believe that dress codes need to be really thought about the implications they have for a specific community, be it gender, race, religion, culture .”