Region 16 adding teeth to dress code policy

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REGION 16 — The dress code policy in Region 16 is in the midst of a makeover.

“I believe it sets a tone, it sets an atmosphere for what learning should be,” said Superintendent of Schools Tim James about how students dress at school.

James presented the Board of Education with a revised dress code policy during its Jan. 9 meeting.

The proposed revisions don’t add much in the way of what students aren’t allowed to wear to school. Soiled clothing, clothing with excessive holes and attire which can create a hostile environment such as clothing with sexually harassing comments or symbols have been added to prohibited clothing.

The revisions also add an emphasis on school staff to implement the aforementioned dress code throughout the district and set forth an appeal process for parents.

The major change proposed comes under the punishments students face for violating the dress code.

James explained the current policy left compliance up to the discretion of individual administrators and is unclear, stating students are subject to punishment up to and including explosion.

The revisions lay out clear escalating repercussions for violations.

Under the proposal, Woodland Regional High School students will be removed from class and allowed to return if they can change clothes on the first offense. If they can’t, they won’t be allowed back to class.

A second offense will be met with an afterschool detention and students will receive one day of in-school suspension for a third offense. Subsequent offenses will result in two days of in-school suspension.

Long River Middle School students will be removed from class and given a chance to change on the first offense. They face an afterschool detention and two detentions following second and third offenses, respectively. Subsequent offenses will result in a day of in-school suspension.

At the district’s elementary schools the first offense will be a verbal warning and removal from class with a chance to change. A written notification will be sent to parents for the second offense and students face an afterschool detention for a third offense. Subsequent offenses will result in an in-school suspension and a parent conference.

In all cases students must change their clothes and their parents will be notified. Students could face expulsion if they continue to violate the policy.

The revisions are the result of a push from school board Chair Priscilla Cretella.

Late last year, Cretella raised concerns at a board meeting about how the dress code is being enforced after seeing multiple violations during a visit to Woodland.

“We are taking the dress code policy much more seriously,” said Cretella following the board’s approval of the first reading of the revised policy last week.

Cretella, who was pleased with the revisions James crafted, said the policy needs to be updated because it is too lax.

“It’s great on MTV, on TMZ but it’s not acceptable at our schools,” she said about the clothing some students are wearing.

The board is expected to approve the updated policy at its Jan. 23 meeting.