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School district discusses dress code policy

By JUDY SHERARD
jsherard@dailynews.net

Resolving dress code issues and infractions is part of a school administrator’s job, said Hays USD 489 Superintendent Will Roth.
Most are resolved on the spot, but some take a little more time.

The issue was brought to light again when a parent aired her dissatisfaction with the dress code on Facebook last week. A Roosevelt Elementary School student, according to his parent, was sent home by administrators for sporting a Mohawk-style haircut. The parent's comments on Facebook became a topic of online conversation in the community last week.

The district did not comment on the disciplinary action, but did discuss the dress code enforced by school administrators.

Under dress code in the district schools’ handbooks it states: “Items of apparel and appearance that are considered distracting, unsafe, offensive, revealing or suggestive ... should not be worn.”

Items with reference to alcohol, drugs, tobacco and others are listed as being inappropriate for school.

When drafting the dress code, administrators didn’t want to be specific in saying clothing such as shorts had to measure a certain length, Roth said.

Appropriateness is determined and enforced by the administration.

The school district’s principals are experienced and have a feeling for the district standards, he said.

“It boils down to judgment with the principal,” Roth said.

Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Lee Keffer said the school doesn’t have many dress code issues.

“We promote appearances that don’t interfere with the function of school,” he said.

The goal is to have an orderly, safe environment, Keffer said.

Keffer praised the parents and community for supporting an educational environment.

“We have a great bunch of parents,” he said.

Elaine Rohleder, principal of Lincoln Elementary School, said she’s had no significant dress code issues this year. Most are dealt with immediately.

Usually it’s a matter of asking a child not to wear something again, she said.

Occasionally a parent will be asked to come get an elementary school age child because of an infraction.
Most return to school in a day or so.

Hays High School Principal Mike Hester said he deals with dress code infractions as they come up.

Students showing too much skin or wearing something inappropriate can wear one of the T-shirts or sweatpants the school has available in such cases, or go home and change.

However, if they go home, they are required to make up the time, he said.

Roth said he usually isn’t notified and usually doesn’t get involved in dress code issues.

“I believe the decision belongs to the principal,” Roth said.