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I attended the special- called meeting at the high school last Thursday regarding the issue of “outerwear” being worn in the classrooms. At the time that I attended this meeting, I would like to note that my son has not even worn a heavy jacket to school yet, so I was there to try and learn the facts and advocate for all student’s rights if I felt like they were being violated.
If you have never attended a SBDM meeting, you will know that the counsel cannot “answer your questions”, rather you are allowed to address the committee in a three-minute speech. The committee is made up of three teachers, an office administrator and two parents. Ms. Lyons is the chairperson of the committee. Absent from this meeting was one of the parent reps and one teacher.
I must say that I was very impressed with the parent and student turnout of this very controversial issue. There was not an empty seat in the library. The students are upset that they cannot wear their jackets, such as Carhartts, lettermans, etc. during the school day in the classrooms, cafeteria or any other place in the building. As soon as the students arrive at school, they must place their jacket in a locker.
The school administrators believe that by allowing students to wear the jackets throughout the day, this causes concern for safety as they believe students can hide drugs and weapons inside the coat. We learned of one violation by a spokesperson that indicated a student brought a water bottle to school with vodka in it. I don’t know if this involved hiding it in a jacket or not.
Here are my concerns:
1. If we truly have a reason to fear for our child’s safety at our schools, then we as parents have a right to know what is going on in the school and what violations are occurring. We are not asking for a student’s identity, but rather what is happening.
2. By not allowing the student to wear the jacket in the classroom, DOES NOT prevent the items from being brought to school. If that is the true concern, then it sounds like we need to invest in metal detectors. If a student is that disturbed and feels the need to hurt someone, I believe they will find a way to do it regardless.
We should focus on better communication with our students and parents by learning and teaching how to identify the warning signs of a potential problem. If there is a problem with drugs, then have the police dog sniff the lockers weekly. From what I gathered from the meeting, and this is just an observation, we are punishing probably 98 percent of the students for the two percent that are causing problems. Fix those problems, punish those children, send them to the alternative school for additional help if that is what they need.
The students have an issue with the climate from room to room. Body temperatures vary and it is difficult to please everyone. I can tell you that with a room full of people in the library, you would think that it would have been hot. The answer is no. I had on a long sleeved sweater and was shivering in that meeting the entire night.
So my question is: is it really about safety? If so, we need to do much more than just enforce a dress code. You can hide drugs and weapons anywhere, boots, purses, backpacks, hoodies. So what’s next, will we ban these items too? I am not saying that bad things can’t happen in Taylorsville. We all know drugs and violence can happen anywhere; but I really would like to think that I came to this county to get away from some of the bigger city troubles.
Lastly, in response to Mrs. Cox’s statement that we should not teach our children to disrespect administrators and follow rules that are set in place. I would agree with a portion of that statement. I certainly do not condone my son to disrespect anyone, even if he disagrees. However, the students that were present Thursday night were simply stating their opinions and challenging a rule that was not clearly defined in the school handbook. I can understand how a student would be upset if he was told to take off his Carhartt jacket and the person next to him in a letterman jacket was left alone.
Editor’s note: The high school site-based decision-making council ruled Thursday night that students would not be allowed to wear heavy coats during the school day. Only light-weight jackets will be permitted. Before this decision, letterman jackets were being allowed.