Mt. View dress code challenged
BY TOM FONTANA
Several parents challenged proposed revisions to the Mountain View School District dress code at the board meeting on Monday night.
“I want to know why no t-shirts or turtlenecks,” asked Jane Mack, after the second reading of the proposed code, first presented at the August 26 meeting.
“When will this new code start?” Joy Bognatz wanted to know. “I just bought a bunch of new school clothes for my kids. Now they’re not going to be able to wear them because of a new dress code?”
The parents were mostly concerned with new rules banning the wearing of any t-shirts, sport shorts, and turtleneck shirts unless worn under a sweater.
The revised code states, “All shirts must have collars,” with no more than two buttons unbuttoned at the neck. It also bans the wearing of gym shorts, jean shorts, and sweat pants in classrooms, permitting only ‘cargo-style’ shorts of appropriate length.
Another revision notes that, “No clothing may have printing, sayings, scenes or the like.”
“The main reason for revising the dress code is to cut down on unnecessary disciplinary actions,” superintendant Francine Shea explained. “Our principals have been spending too much time dealing with violations of rules, taking them away from the job they’re supposed to be doing, which is focusing on the quality of education the students are receiving.”
High school dean of students George Barbolish confirmed that situation.
“On the first day of school,” he recounted, “I had to address seven or eight dress code violations. Since then, there have been three or four a day, including the need to put duct tape over rips in their students’ jeans.”
Mack was not convinced.
“I don’t see the issue about t-shirts with logos or wearing turtleneck shirts,” she said. “I see nothing wrong with the dress code rules we have now. You just have to follow through on it.”
Barbolish strongly agreed with the proposed revised dress code, but suggested it not be initiated until the 2014-15 school year.
“I just like how students look in a shirt with a collar,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with having our students look good.”
“Our job is the education of our students,” board president Elwood Williams added. “I feel teaching students how to dress well is part of that education.”
Parents present spoke in favor of delaying the adoption of a revised dress code until the next school year. The board will entertain the third reading and consider the approval of the proposed code changes at its next public meeting on Monday, Sept. 26.
The second reading of a proposed revised code on use of electronics in school was also questioned. The code bans the use of electronic devices, such as cell phones and hand-held units that have a variety of applications, during school hours or at school-related events.
Barbolish explained that ‘school-related events’ referred to things like assemblies, and not sports events or dances. Presley added that if students had an emergency need for the use of cell phones during the school day, they could inform administrators of that need and exceptions could be considered in certain situations. The proposed electronics code will also be considered for adoption on Sept. 26.
Both of the proposed policies are posted on the district’s website: mvsd.net.
Director of Curriculum Karen Voigt and teacher Cheryl Decker offered an overview of the district’s ‘PreK Counts’ program, now a grant-funded program entering its fifth year at the elementary school.
The program enrolls 19 students, and eligibility is income-based. Voigt said the district has earned state grant funds of $150,000 by meeting the requirements of the Early Childhood Enrichment Rating Scale.
Decker confirmed that over the four years of her involvement, she has tracked students of the program through their early elementary grades.
“I am amazed at the difference between the children who were in the Pre-K program and those who weren’t,” she told the board. “This is definitely a very effective program.”
She explained that the Pre-K program is based on “learning through play,” rather than the use of books, and includes parent-involvement in a variety of activities.
In other business, Shea announced the formation of a ‘Legacy Committee’ to develop criteria to ‘recognize or memorialize’ district staff or alumni who made a significant positive impact on the district.
She said banners will be hung from light poles around the schools honoring those chosen.