06/05/07 — 6 of 32 Wayne schools to adopt 'higher standard' dress code

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6 of 32 Wayne schools to adopt 'higher standard' dress code

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 5, 2007 1:48 PM

Six of the 32 public schools will adopt the "higher standard dress code" in the fall, the school board learned Monday night.

The board also approved an interim budget, briefly discussed gang awareness and were educated on the district's crisis management plan.

At the end of April, surveys explaining the dress code policy were mailed out asking parents for feedback. For the policy to be implemented at individual schools, 70 percent of the responses had to be in favor of the change, officials said.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor announced Monday that six schools approved the change -- Brogden Middle, Carver Heights Elementary, Dillard Middle, Goldsboro Intermediate, North Drive Elementary and School Street Elementary.

Letters will be sent home to parents at those schools with report cards at the end of school, along with a list of acceptable clothing items.

Olivia Pierce, executive director for public relations, is also meeting with 14 local retailers this week to discuss what the standard dress code entails.

Board Vice Chairwoman Thelma Smith was pleased that the measure was approved at even a few of the schools. It's a safety issue, she said.

"If you are in this type of uniform and there are people on that campus, you can easily spot them because they're not in dress code," she said. "I believe it will make a difference."

Since the 2007-08 budget has not been adopted by the county commission or the state legislature, an interim budget covering three months had to be adopted by the board. The budget, in the amount of $36.8 million, will cover fiscal operations through Oct. 15.

On the heels of last month's discussion about safety in the schools, officials prepared a nearly hour-long presentation on the topic, which included an update on the district's crisis management plan.

At the May meeting, board member Pete Gurley asked that the board be more informed about issues such as gang awareness. He suggested law enforcement agencies from around the county be invited to offer input on improving safety measures.

School officials discussed policies and procedures they already have in place, as well as curriculum options.

Energy/security coordinator Chris Barnes said that in March, portable metal detectors were purchased and grants are being explored for procuring more equipment. Each high school currently has two metal detectors, he said, although they are not set up every day.

Administrators discussed lockdown procedures and "the emergency black box" at each school, which contains emergency numbers, homeroom attendance information, the crisis plan, master keys, a map of the school and a phone.

Dr. Marlee Ray, director of instructional support services, said officials continue to look at communication with parents and the public. Input is continually sought from advisory councils at each school, and parents are encouraged to provide information to the schools, she said.

Mrs. Pierce cautioned against believing the rumor mill, saying the only authoritative information will come from school officials.

Dr. Ray said several pertinent curriculums are also being added in the school system, specifically to discuss suicide prevention and depression for the high school level.

Board Chairwoman Shirley Sims was appreciative of the presentation and suggested others in the community need to be aware of the good things being done in the schools.

"I think you ought to put something on at every school," she said.

Gurley was not as convinced.

"One thing I didn't hear (was about) gang awareness," he said. "Do we have anything anywhere to cover troubled students that may be a sign of something that's going to happen?"

Citing incidents like Columbine, Paducah, Ky., and the recent shootings at Virginia Tech, Gurley said the common factor was that "all of these came about by troubled youth" and indicators that weren't heeded beforehand.

"Have we got anything in place to detect if we have got youths that are capable of doing any of these things?" he asked.

Dr. Ray replied, "We do have several different curriculums available and school counselors in place." There is also staff development in the area of gang awareness at every school, she added.

Dean Sauls, lead teacher for athletics, social studies, health and PE, said that since 2003, bullying awareness forms are sent out to principals each fall.

"One of the best sources of information is other students," Gurley said. "Many of them will convey these things to the appropriate personnel. Is there anything in place to follow up? Troubled youth is what I'm concerned about."

"Students that are perceived as a potential threat are required to get a psychological," Dr. Ray replied. She also noted that the school system is in the process of hiring three behavorial specialists.

Ms. Sims suggested that at some point during the school year, officials host a meeting with parents "so that they know what you're doing and would feel a little bit more comfortable."