Elizabeth Johnson 0

Don't change Beaufort Co Schools dress code policy

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On Monday, May 21st the Beaufort County Board of Education voted to change the existing school uniform policy to make it more "flexible" for the students. They voted and passed the following four separate changes to the current dress code that will be effective for the 2007-08 school year: 1) letting students wear jackets inside classrooms, 2) lifted the restriction of labels on clothing, 3) approved collared shirts with sleeves in any color and 4) approved "a more durable fabric" for pants. If you remember a few months ago, parents and teachers throughout the county were surveyed about the "effectiveness and practicality" of the policy. Cindy Winstead, a new school board member and known opponent to the school uniform policy, chaired the appointed committee to evaluate these surveys. The results of this survey were never formally quantified and presented to the board before the meeting for them to formulate a vote based on the opinions of the parents and teachers (principals were not included in the survey!). Despite her negative interpretations about the current policy using typical anti-uniform rhetoric, Winstead explained to the board that the results were "overwhelmingly" in favor of keeping a dress code and that those surveyed want to "honor the goal of a modest appearance". Despite this contrarian interpretation vs. her personal opinions, Winstead was able to persuade the board to vote for the changes to the dress code policy based on her "analysis" of the surveys. The board voted for the changes proposed by Winstead without a formal review of the results and we now have a modified school uniform/dress code policy. The next school board meeting will be Monday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. where there will be a public forum to discuss this issue. At this meeting, the committee will be making more specific recommendations about the new policy and present their definition of the "more durable fabric" for pants. In the May meeting, the board said no to Winstead's recommendation that denim be allowed but who knows what could be voted on and passed at this upcoming meeting! There are concerns about all four of these new policy changes. It seems as if these changes were made by an irresponsible board supported by an uninformed public about the results of this survey. All of us parents and teachers who have concerns about these changes should attend this meeting to voice our concerns that this vote was passed without having the survey results formally quantified for the board on which to base their votes! This petition is to urge the Beaufort County Board of Education to reconsider their votes for these four changes to the current dress code policy upon a formal review of the surveyed results. It is also to request that board members do not vote on any further changes to the current dress code until they analyze the data from the parent surveys and make decisions based on the majority consensus of the parental constituents that they represent.

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