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BoE talks dress code, cell phones, more
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It looks like the dress code at Bryan County Schools may get a makeover.

What’s more, school officials may also be more tolerant of cell phones next year, so long as they aren’t seen or heard.

School board members discussed both issues and plenty more at a lengthy called meeting Monday while going over proposed revisions to the student handbook.

Yet the changes discussed Monday seem more about easing up on enforcing current rules rather than a rewriting entire policy.

Especially when it comes the dress code.

"Will we now allow untucked shirt tails, within reason? The answer is yes," interim Superintendent John Oliver said. "Will we allow students to come in dressed sloppily? The answer is no."

Overall, school board members seemed receptive to the change in philosophy, though there were questions regarding what would and wouldn’t be allowed.

For example, shirts that aren’t tucked in may be overlooked, but bans on beach and athletic clothing will still be in force.

"The only significant change is we’re reducing the amount of time we spend enforcing it," Oliver said.

"In other words, what we’re basically saying is as long as children aren’t coming in to school dressed sloppily, it’s OK," BoE Chairman Eddie Warren said.

What students wear to school has been an issue in recent years, and in 2007 a proposed uniform policy supported by principals drew fire from some parents who said it was an infringement on their rights.

The proposal to require school uniforms was dropped, but school administrators apparently continued to spend a lot of time dealing with infractions.

The list of potential clothing no-no's is a long one. In the dress code on page 48 of the 2008-2009 student handbook, there are 19 items dealing with what students can and can’t wear to school.

The rules range from requiring tucked-in shirts to banning sunglasses and clothing with references to musical groups. The code also requires principals or assistant principals to "determine if any particular mode of dress is not acceptable, is distracting, or is disruptive."

Bryan County High School Principal Hal Roach, who helped work on the proposed handbook for the 2009-2010 school year, told school board members that enforcing the dress code probably ranked third on his list of duties.

"Some kids push it to the limit," he said. "It's not some big chore. We're still going to stay after them and demand that students look decent."

But the way the dress code is enforced will change, Oliver said.

"In the past, principals probably spent about 90 percent of their time dealing with (dress code infractions)," he said. "An administrator’s job is supposed to be about supervision of instruction, not dress coding it."

He also had a warning for students who might decide to push the envelope and dress inappropriately.

"If this doesn't work, my next recommendation to the board will be that we go to uniforms," Oliver said.

In addition, it appears the BoE will adopt a more tolerant policy on students having cell phones -- which are banned during the school day.

"We’re not going to search students for their cell phone," Oliver said. "If rings in class, then we'll have a problem, but if it’s turned off and in your locker or in your purse, life goes on."

The board has not yet approved the new student handbook.


Editor’s note: Look for a story on the BoE's budget in Saturday’s paper.

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