Recent History – 2004-2006
By Brad Lyon, January 27, 2006
School District 59 trustees have adopted a student dress code policy. At last week’s monthly board meeting, trustees agreed to a policy that requires student clothing and hairstyles to promote a safe learning environment, while at the same time allowing individualexpression. As well, students are to “demonstrate decorum appropriate to a business environment.”
Prior to adopting the new policy, trustees discussed whether it was possible for one policy to accommodate all the schools in the district.
“These are much different age groups. I can see where, if there was more than one high school or more than one middle school (in a centre), you’d want a consistent policy,” said trustee Wayne Mould. Administrator Rob Dennis told the trustees that the secondary schools had asked for some latitude to develop dress codes that were “relevant to their own cultures.” For example, wearing a hat in a school building means something different in Chetwynd than it does in Dawson Creek, Dennis said.
Trustee Ian Campbell wondered if the policy could include prohibitions on specific actions or clothing. “Should there be certain things we don’t allow at all, because they’re offensive,” Campbell said. One specific example cited was the wearing of “dog collars” by female students.
The policy also specifies that each school “will work with the school community to establish its own student dress code policy.” The policy will be published in the school handbook and code of conduct. Campbell also suggested that once schools have developed their policies, they be submitted to trustees for approval.
The board has been considering a dress code policy since October, and asked for input from schools on a draft policy that was circulated. Trustee Richard Powell wanted to make sure that violations of a dress code would be issues solved at the school level, as opposed to issues of discipline, that could make their way to the board level.
“If they appeal it to the board, how are we going to deal with it,” Powell asked. Dennis said that as long as the policy is included in the school’s code of conduct, as the policy specifies, the school administration has the authority to take appropriate actions.
“Only where there’s a significant change in the education program to the student could they appeal…. Those are extremely rare occasions,” Dennis said.