Board member Michael Welsh expressed concern that the district is watering down its uniform policy.
Welsh also questioned if a growing number of choices is going to make enforcement more difficult for teachers. He also indicated the district may be making things more difficult for students who were ready to “buy in” to the program.
“I have to confess that some of those same thoughts went through my mind,” said Mayo.
“I don’t want to bend too much that we start compromising and blurring the line on what we’re trying to do. Who can remember all of it? Teachers and administrators are not going to have lists in front of them. If it gets beyond what you can remember, we’re back to the old way.”
But the superintendent also said: “I do think it is reasonable that the colors are related to school colors and potentially can build some school spirit.
“The outerwear did become a major problem as soon as the winter hit. When I talked to principals, they said ‘the kids are cold’.”
Dress code enforcement
Board member Debra Lamb suggested that giving students more leeway, especially with shoes, may reduce the number of dress code infractions.
Mayo predicted it’s going to take a few years “for us to get this where we really want it, particularly at the high schools. We have had challenges at the high schools.”
Students who don’t comply with the dress code are sent to ATS, the district’s in-school Alternative-to-Suspension program.
Board member Ce-Ce Gerlach said she knows of a couple of student who repeatedly get sent to ATS because they don’t comply with the dress code. She added ATS is overwhelmed with students who don’t comply.
Mayo could not say what percent of high school students repeatedly fail to meet the dress code. “I know it’s high enough that we need to work on it quite a bit.”
He indicated as younger students move up through the grades, they will be more accustomed to wearing school uniforms and there will be much more compliance when they get to high school.
Dress code cover-up?
“Don’t be swindled by the dress code cover-up,” Nickischer of the teachers union told the school board.
He said ATS averages 30-40 students a day, later adding that is 30-40 students in each middle school and high school. He said they are sent there for blatant misbehavior.
“ATS is not loaded with dress code violations,” Nickischer said.
He said some students have been written up and sent to ATS more than 100 times.
Nickischer, who serves on ASD’s safety steering committee, reported too many schools in the district are failing to hold regular safety meetings. He said others have safety meetings that are monopolized by administrators and teachers and do not involve parents and non-teaching staff members.
Warning of a catastrophe, Nickischer indicated student infractions “are up as high as three-fold this year versus last year.” He said teachers have told him “the data would be far worse, but they have stopped reporting due to lack of support and inconsistent outcomes.”
“Once again, you can ignore it and take no action,” he told the school board. “I recommend revisiting the ASD mission statement about a safe educational experience.”
Pregnant and parenting students
The school district also plans to update its policy on pregnant and parenting students, for the first time since 1999.
The updated version states that students may not be excluded from their home schools solely based on pregnancy, parenting or marital status.
It eliminates language in the current policy that ASD educational operations director Michael Makhoul said were exclusionary. He said pregnant students no longer will be sent to alternative education sites.