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Dress code questions start out school board year

Aug 25th, 2011 | 0

By ALICIA LEONARD

The Walton County School Board met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 16. After the invocation and pledge led by school board member Faye Leddon, Walton School Superintendent Carlene Anderson announced the new school year had started out smoothly. “it was almost like without a hitch, we started back again,” she said. “I credit that to our wonderful administrators and their staff and to our parents and their children. I’d like to thank them for that.”

Board Chairperson Sharon Roberts moved on to the approval of the agenda for this meeting as well as the adoption of minutes from the Aug. 2 meeting. Both requests for approval were passed unanimously.

Roberts opened the floor to public comments. The public was allowed three minutes to address the board. Dusty Simmons Owens told the board that Paxton High School Principal Beth Tucker and herself as well as other parents were in disagreement over the dress code, especially over the length of shorts (to the knee or below the knee) and shirts (up to the neck or collar) and the principal’s interpretation of the code.

Owens told the board, “my daughter was told to change her shirt one day because it didn’t come up to her neck, but wore the same shirt in a different color another day and no mention was made of it.” Anderson told the board that she had met with four parents from Paxton, as well as responded to emails from others on clarification of the code. She had also held a phone conference with all other principals to make sure everyone was on the same page as to how to respond to the issue and implement the code uniformly. Anderson added that she was almost at the end of the process for fixing the problem but had a few more steps in her plan to implement before she could conclude the plan and report back on it totally. Roberts added that she had fielded several calls herself over the dress code issue.

Board member Mark Davis spoke up. “Sixteen years now we have had a dress code problem. We’ve added, taken away from, defined, redefined, I think we have beaten that poor thing to death,” he said. “I would like for the superintendent to give us a proposed policy for uniforms.”

“Uniforms?” questioned Anderson.

“This battle has become a huge waste of time,” responded Davis.

Anderson responded, “well, those principals who deal with uniforms didn’t have to take part in the call this morning, and that was nice for them, but I’m not sure this is what parents want and I like to work with parents. Mr. Ewing and I are in the process of working through this right now.”

“Maybe just a policy from a district that deals with uniforms and let us see how that works for them,” requested Davis. Anderson agreed to return to the board with more information on both the dress code, and an example of a uniform policy in the future. Roberts responded that although she didn’t agree that uniforms were the answer in”these economic times,” she requested the information be brought to the board for those interested. With no further comments, the floor was closed to the public.

Anderson recommended approval on all items under the consent agenda and the board moved to approve the consent agenda unanimously.

The board moved unanimously to accept the request to postpone the opening date per the Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School’s request until Sept. 6, due to an unfinished real estate deal as well as an unexpected vacancy for a teacher.

Anderson recommend a workshop for the board to view the five-year draft of their capital outlay plan. “You usually see this first as an agenda item, but we would like to receive your input and therefore want you to see it as a draft, first this year.” The workshop is scheduled to be presented Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. and will be followed up at the Sept. 20 meeting for final approval. The workshop request was approved unanimously.

The board then moved unanimously to open a public hearing on revisions to the school code of conduct on attendance and juvenile justice. With no public comment, the board moved unanimously to close the public meeting and resume the board meeting.

Anderson recommended three changes to the code of conduct to amend the 2012 student code of conduct. The three changes included removal of last bullet under attendance for extra advance notice of absence that could be approved by the principal. Delete the recommendation after the 15 absences, expulsion and the last recommendation that no student shall be eligible for extracurricular activity if the student is being supervised by either the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Florida Department of Corrections that is not limited to pretrial or plea supervision.  Roberts added that she was only voting yea on the second item revision due to the fact that she wanted the expulsion item removed from the code of conduct. The board voted unanimously to approve the three recommendations to the student code of conduct.

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