11/06/11 — County school board to review dress code policy

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County school board to review dress code policy

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 6, 2011 1:50 AM

The higher standard dress code, initially approved by the Wayne County school board in June 2007, will again come under debate during Monday night's board meeting, along with nearly two dozen other safety and curriculum policies.

The county Board of Education meeting, which will begin at 5 p.m. at the administrative offices on Royall Avenue, also will includes presentations on two district programs -- Project Heart Initiative at Wayne School of Engineering and Caring Friends Mentoring Program at Goldsboro High School -- and announcement of the Secondary Math Teacher of the Year.

Only slight changes are being proposed to the current student dress code. Two addendums were announced at a Thursday afternoon meeting of the policy committee.

The first, regarding length of shorts, skirts and dresses, which states they cannot be more than three inches above the top of the knee, now contains the stipulation, "including when leggings or tights are worn."

The other change is in the area of body jewelry, specifically "spacers," a type of body piercing jewelry that holds open the space when jewelry is not worn.

The proposed wording for that portion of the policy would now read, "There will be no jewelry and/or spacers affixed to a student's nose, tongue, lips, cheek or eyebrow."

But it is the "higher standard dress code" that prompted the board to bring it back for further review.

Four years ago, letters were sent home to parents, inviting them to vote on the list of acceptable clothing items that can be worn, creating an "informal" uniform. Seventy percent approval was required before the standard would be implemented.

The higher standard was adopted at six schools -- Brogden Middle, Carver Heights Elementary, Dillard Middle, Goldsboro Intermediate, North Drive Elementary and School Street Elementary.

Board member Len Henderson has suggested that with the passage of time, and along with it a new student and parent population, individual schools should again be offered the chance to vote on the dress code.

"Mr. Henderson mentioned (at the September meeting) about the dress code and wanted us to revisit the voting process we go through at those schools that may be interested in the higher standard dress code and whether or not they want to continue that for the coming year," said Allison Pridgen, director student support services.

Corrections to the current surveying practice were suggested, ensuring that parents from the feeder schools will also have opportunity to vote, Mrs. Pridgen said.

"It will necessitate us to do that survey, re-administer it annually in the second semester," she explained.

"Are we going to allow this to be voted on annually?" board member Chris West asked.

"Every year you're adding a new group that wasn't there before," said Olivia Pierce, executive director of community relations.

West said that could become problematic if the dress code should "flip flop" from one year to the next.

"I don't disagree (with them having a say)," he said. "But the logistics of making it happen ... that part of it seems messy."

"I think it should be their choice and those parents should have that right," said Henderson.

Other policies up for first reading at the meeting include the state's proposal to add five additional days to the school calendar, service animals in schools, and policies dealing with professional development and other personnel matters.