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School board attempts to clarify dress code

7/13/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Reorganization and preparation for the school year will be the focus of the Hays USD 489 Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Rockwell Administration Center, 323 W. 12th.

Board members will elect a president and vice president. Richard Kraemer currently serves as president, and Darren Schumacher is vice president.

Other organizational tasks include appointments for various positions such as clerk, treasurer, attorney and public information officer, setting meeting dates and establishing home rule.

Approval of district handbooks, including student and classified staff and administration, also is on the agenda.

The handbooks include a revised district dress code.

The district's dress code came under scrutiny last spring because of an incident in which a kindergarten student was sent home for wearing a mohawk-style haircut.

A group of administrators met and discussed ways to keep enforcement of the dress code consistent, particularly in the elementary schools, said Richard Cain, deputy superintendent.

"Our first priority is to keep kids in school," he said.

The goal is not to address specific issues but make its enforcement uniform from one school to another.

"The more detail you put into it, the more issues you have," he said.

Craig Pallister, Hays Middle School principal, said the idea was to "help parents out if (their child) moves from one school to another."

Administrators will continue to enforce dress and appearance appropriateness on an individual basis.

However, they will meet occasionally to discuss dress code issues and maintain consistency, Cain said.

Based on the administrators' discussion, a few items were modified, including one that addresses headgear -- hats, caps, bandanas, sunglasses, stocking caps and other head coverings.

Except in specified situations, headgear "should not be worn in the building until the dismissal bell rings. Hair, particularly at the middle school, should be a natural color."

Previously, the dress code said headgear should not be worn during school hours, and there was no reference to hair color. The revised code doesn't specifically address hair style or length.

The third item states "items of apparel that are considered distracting, unsafe, offensive, revealing or suggestive (direct or indirect reference to alcohol, drugs, sex, profanity, gang affiliation, satanism, tobacco, etc.) should not be worn."

The previous dress code included the words "and appearance" after apparel.

A final item added this year states "no bare backs or shirts which expose stomachs are permitted."

The handbooks will be available online. A limited number of printed copies are available at enrollment for those without online access.

Other agenda items are:

* Initial review of FY13 budget.

* Bids for copy paper, HMS kitchen air conditioning, Hays High track storage building, Wilson roof and a new bus.

* North Central Kansas Technical College participating district agreement.

* Increasing adult meal prices by 10 cents.