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Mom Questions School Dress Code Inconsistencies: Letter to the Editor

Resident Jan Hightower-Woods asks Stow-Munroe Falls Board of Education to address conflicting policies.

A letter written by Jan Hightower-Woods to Stow-Munroe Falls Board of Education members, then submitted to Stow Patch as a Letter to the Editor:

Hello, Mr. Spangler, Ms Wright, Ms. Powers, Mr. Bonacci, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Jones,

Below please find an excerpt from the "Code of Conduct" that I took off of the SMFCSD website today at 3 p.m. on May 17, 2012. I want to know if the District Policy overules individual school policies or are the schools allowed to "change" the District policy as they see fit?

The reason I am asking is because as a parent of a child in this District I utilize the District website and count on it to have accurate information regarding school policies for ALL of the schools in the District.

has it's "own policy" and has actually changed the verbage of the District policy and has adjusted the District policy to suit their own agenda (which, by the way, the rules are randomly enforced). See both the District policy ... and Lakeview's policy (below).

When speaking with the school Principal Mr. Yanchunas and Assistant Principal Mr. Muckleroy, I inquired as to why these policies were different and they could not answer my question. I also wanted to know which one was correct because I was told by my daughter's teacher that I should "refer to the district website for district policy."

My daughter missed an entire day of school today because she was singled out and sent home for "NOT FOLLOWING THE POLICY." What is the policy??? I sat outside of Lakeview as the students were being dismissed and saw MANY girls clearly in violation of the so called policy, yet they were allowed to remain in school. Short shorts and short skirts. What kind of message does that send to my daughter, it's ok if you are in a certain teachers class but not ok if you are in your teachers class, really???

I was also told by Mr. Yanchunas that he "doesn't seek out people who violate the dress code, he only says something if the teacher sends them down." How can you miss them? If he stands out in the hall with his eyes open he would clearly see one violation (according to Lakeview's policy) after another.

I would like the board to address this policy conflict between to SMFCSD and the individual schools as soon as possible.

District - Dress or Appearance

A student shall not dress in an obscene or suggestive manner or in any fashion that, in the judgment of the staff and/or administration, disrupts the educational process. See-through or mesh garments, midriff blouses or shirts, tank tops, spaghetti straps, exposure of undergarments of any type, spiked jewelry, chains, cleavage, low-riding pants, hats, and clothing with obscene or suggestive statements or symbols are prohibited. Also prohibited is any apparel that advertises or promotes sex, drugs or alcohol. Shoes must be worn at all times. Coats and hats should be placed in lockers and not worn/carried during the school day.

Lakeview - STUDENT APPEARANCE

A student shall not dress in an obscene or suggestive manner or in any fashion that in the judgement of the administration disrupts the educational process. See-through or mesh garments, midriff blouses or shirts, tank tops, and clothing with obscene or suggestive statements or symbols are prohibited. Also prohibited is any apparel that advertises or promotes drugs or alcohol. Shoes must be worn at all times. Slippers and/or pajamas are not appropriate school attire unless previously authorized as part of a Student Council Spirit Day. Appropriate shorts, fingertip length, may be worn during the school year.

To submit a Letter to the Editor, email Local Editor Amanda Harnocz.

Troy McClure May 24, 2012 at 12:47 PM
So, what's the exact issue here again? I see some verbiage removed from the Lakeview policy, but for the most part, the policies still appear to be the same. Just because it's NOT in the Lakeview policy, but remains in the district policy, does not mean that it doesn't apply to Lakeview. It still does. Plus, a school could add provisions that are applicable to that student body (i.e. pajamas...obviously because some of these parents aren't too bright to realize kids shouldn't be wearing PJ's to school). This letter appears to be just another person complaining about something else regarding the schools.
James Thomas May 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Mr. McClure, If you can not comprehend the significant impact of the "verbiage removed" from the Lakeview version of the dress code, others can. For one thing, it seems at Lakeview, that the teachers are completely left out of the dress code enforcement loop. The "exact issue here" is Why is there any difference at all in the policy statement and who is responsible for creating that difference. An inconsistent policy not only promotes problems in the individual building but opens the entire system to lawsuits as the students move on. Someone needs to be called on the carpet for this discrepency and it needs to be rectified NOW.
Ed Fisher May 24, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Ms. Hightower-Woods and Mr. Thomas have a very valid concern here. If a policy is not administered equally, it could be judged as null. Why are there two differing policies ? And why isn't policy being administered equally ? Answers are required here.
Troy McClure May 24, 2012 at 03:10 PM
There is no "significant impact" here. There is no difference in policy that I see. Whatever is not written in a school's dress code is still covered in the DISTRICT-WIDE code. It sounds like this is an issue of length of shorts/skirts. Since it's vague (which is not unusual) and up to individual interpretation, perhaps the district needs to put specifics down because, as sad as it appears to be, (too many) parents are unable to decipher what is actually appropriate. And the letter writer is being a little over-dramatic thinking the principal should be out in the halls looking for dress code violations. Get real.
tracy seaver May 24, 2012 at 03:12 PM
My comment may offend some, but here goes nothing. my children have attended stow schools from kindergarten, i have noticed that the parents who are upset by the dress code are usually the ones who do not want to enforce it before their child goes out of their door. i have always made sure my son is not dressed in a manner that degrades him or others, the same with my daughters. Its not always easy and i have had to put my foot down and be a parent but my children have not been sent home from school because of their dress. if the schools need to do anything its enforce the dress code more!
James Thomas May 24, 2012 at 03:45 PM
OK Mr. McClure, according to your reading of Lakeview's Dress Code how would you deal with a student wearing a spaghetti strap top promoting safe sex, and low riding pants that don't completely cover the student's thong? Would you send him home?
Anne White May 24, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Be clear and consistent. 3 fingers wide for shirt "straps" and tips of fingers for length of shorts/skirts. If not, you wear something in the office. Then, you get to go to high school and all of that is null and void. Craziness.
Mindy Davis May 24, 2012 at 06:38 PM
When my son was in SMFHS, I got a call that he was being sent home for wearing an inappropriate t-shirt. Since I ironed my kids clothes before school every day, I couldn't imagine what they were referring to, but nevertheless, I went down promptly to pick him up. Now mind you, he had been sent to the office by his teacher, and now the councilor, the principal and then entire office staff had seen him. "What's the problem"? I asked, baffled. The councilor said "He's got marijunana leaves on his shirt, and that's totally inappropriate"! she exclaimed. I was floored......he didn't own any such thing. When he came out into the office area, I started to laugh. He was wearing an OHIO STATE shirt, and those were BUCKEYE leaves on the shirt. Really???? 20 grown adults have seen him, both men and women, and NOBODY realized they were buckeye leaves?? I wanted to be ticked off, because I had to leave work for this, but you can bet it was worth the 2 seconds of humiliation they all felt for having rushed to judgement. I dont mean to sound disrespectful of the staff-they really are stellar, and I had very few negative encounters with anybody there. The following day, I returned and spoke with the unit principal, who offered a most sincere apology. We actually had a good laugh over it!
Kasha Legeza May 24, 2012 at 06:53 PM
That's a great story, Mindy!
joe ponikarovsky May 24, 2012 at 07:11 PM
james thomas - yea if i saw a guy wearing a spaghetti strap top, low rise jeans and a thong... i'd definitely send him home. that would certainly create a distraction. (but now if it's a girl... yea, same deal.)
joe ponikarovsky May 24, 2012 at 07:14 PM
jesus. it's the state tree and the largest university in the state and none of these teachers knew that? i guess the school levy does need re-upped; but then lets fire these morons and get some real teachers in there.
Debbie S. May 24, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Troy: If you'd had a child who attended Lakeview in the past few years, you'd better understand why this is a legitimate problem. Some of the outfits I saw on 10 year old children were shocking and not at all appropriate for a school setting. Presumably, we have a school dress code because how students look can impact their learning or someone else's. If it exists, it should be clear to all and enforced by all.
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Troy, if you really read what I wrote it is NOT about getting the kids to wear anything they want it is about ALL kids in the SMFCSD being treated equally and fairly. The rules are randomly enforced based on individual teacher preferences. When I as a parent questioned the rule I was referred to the "DISTRICT WEBSITE" for the policy...no where in that policy are shorts mentioned. Your last comment was not necessary..."This letter appears to be just another person complaining about something else regarding the schools."
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Thanks James, you apparently read what I wrote and understood it.
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Mr. McClure, the "significant impact" is that it sends and unclear message to the students in the SMFCSD about fair and equal treatment...I consider that to be VERY significant.And yes, I do WANT the district to re-write the policy as it has stood for as long as I can remember and make it a policy that ALL of the schools stick too...have you been to the high school lately??? By the way, I am perfectly capable of deciphering what is appropriate attire for my child, but thanks for your concern/input.
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Thanks Mr. Fisher (a voice of reason!) I too would like answers...
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Ms. Seaver, I AGREE the dress code needs to be enforced equally and fairly and that is the real issue here, it is currently randomly enforced. By the way, I drive my daughter to school and pick her up everyday so I know what she is wearing to school. Some days what she has on is fine other days...wearing the same shorts, it's NOT ok, therein lies the problem.
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 10:12 PM
My point exactly Debbie.
Jan Hightower-Woods May 24, 2012 at 10:15 PM
The high school is really a "FREE-FOR-ALL" but at Kimpton it is so strict the cheerleaders can't wear their cheer uniforms, because they are too short...REALLY!?
Linda Schad May 25, 2012 at 01:14 AM
It sounds to me like like the left hand (school) doesn't know what the right hand (school board ) is doing and that is a very serious problem. I have personally known Jan Hightower-Woods for 22+ years (I do not live in Ohio) and I can tell you that she is not type of mother that would NEVER let her child go out of the house dressed inappropriately. This sounds like a serious issue that needs to be fixed, maybe the solution to the problem would be uniforms. They would all be dressed alike and no worries about how short or what's printed on them.
Troy McClure May 25, 2012 at 01:32 AM
You are someone who frequently complains about the schools. So, my comment was very much necessary. If you don't want to be criticized, then don't put your issues on display. While you say that no shorts are mentioned (and I do see that now that you pointed it out), technically, a "shorts issue" could fall under the first sentence in the district's policy (personally, I think it would be a stretch, but nonetheless, it's the vagueness).
Troy McClure May 25, 2012 at 01:34 AM
"A voice of reason"? Gimme a break. Nothing against what Ed wrote, but just because you're looking for people to agree with you, doesn't mean every post that sucks up to you is of "reason." Plus, if your child was sent home because of shorts, then YOU are to be questioned into what kind of shorts you are sending your child to school in.
Troy McClure May 25, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Wow. That IS quite a story. But, it is nice to see the Unit Principal at least apologizing.
Troy McClure May 25, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Then, perhaps, dress codes need to go back to the way they were many years ago. When I was in school, we weren't allowed to wear shorts -- at all (except for gym or after-school extra-curricular activities). Since it's apparent there are too many parents who can't use common sense (not directly personally at letter writer) as to what's appropriate for school and what's not (these are probably some of the same parents who dress for work like they're getting ready to go clubbin' lol), then perhaps there needs to be a more stricter dress policy district-wide. NO shorts on guys or gals. Skirts need to be a specific length and no shorter. Sadly, there will be plenty of parents who would complain about this and start screaming about some non-existent "right" of their kid being violated.
Troy McClure May 25, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I'm not disagreeing in the least about outfits IN GENERAL. I see how some of the kids dress (on the other end of the spectrum, I see kids going to school like they're heading to gym class). As I stated below, perhaps the dress code needs to be buckled-up (pun intended) a little bit. I'm sure many of us will agree, we didn't have these "issues" about fashion when we were in school. Because almost everything made (for young women back then) didn't resemble like they were hitting the club lol
Mindy Davis May 25, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Shoot-when I went to school, girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school until they finally changed that in 1970. I was in the 6th grade at the time. Since I was a little hippie at heart, I convinced my Mom to buy me an outfit-red and white striped jeans with a stars&stripes jeans jacket, and a blue fringed belt. The teachers were mortified, but I was the hippest 10 yr old on the planet that day!!
Jan Hightower-Woods May 26, 2012 at 12:51 PM
"You are someone who frequently complains about the schools. So, my comment was very much necessary. If you don't want to be criticized, then don't put your issues on display." Troy, first of all I don't know where you get your information about me frequently complaining about the schools...my oldest daughter graduated from SMFHS in 2010 in the top 10% of her class and she received a fine education, so your comment is incorrect. Secondly, I can take criticism, everyone has a right to their own opinion, so let's just agree to disagree.
Jan Hightower-Woods May 26, 2012 at 12:58 PM
After speaking repeatedly with Dr. Jones and Mr. Yanchunas, Lakeview Principal, the school has agreed to enforce and use the District Policy for the remainder of the school year. I was also told that they will be addressing this "issue" over the summer and will hopefully have a policy that will be enforced school wide when the kids return in the fall. Thank you Dr. Jones and Mr. Yanchunas for listeneing and addressing a problem that has needed to be addressed for MANY years. Let's work together to have fair and equal treatment of ALL of the kids, that's all I ever wanted in the first place.

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