Cell phone use, attendance requirements and items allowed on school buses will be on the agenda this year for Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Code of Conduct Committee.
In their first meeting of the year Monday night, the committee reviewed the changes to last year’s code and discussed what it would focus on as it tries to make improvements to 2022-2023’s Student Handbook & Code of Conduct.
After months of students leading a push to change the dress code, citing racist implications and sexually objectifying language, the commitee largely simplified the dress requirements for this year.
Last year’s dress code included a list of seven descriptions of the types of clothes that are banned, including language like “sag and drag pants,” and barred all headdresses.
Now, there are just four descriptions of clothes that are banned, and head coverings have been deemed acceptable for religious reasons.
The amended dress code, which was shared Monday, says clothing that involves the following is banned:
- Depict, advertise or advocate the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other controlled substances
- Depict pornography, nudity or sexual acts
- Share or depict hate speech
- Depict violence or threaten the health or safety of any other student or staff member
“They’re going to wait until the end of this semester and put out a survey to educators, administrators, parents, families, and students to get some feedback on what they think,” said committee member Vic Leonard. “We’ll make sure all the stakeholders have input with the survey, which I thought was a great idea, because I’m a data guy.”
Because the dress code is a lot less specific and has loosened some of its strict language, Leonard said he’s interested to see what the Red Clay community thinks of the changes.
Looming changes to Red Clay’s code of conduct
He said the next steps for the committee is coming up with revisions and presenting a new code for the committee to discuss at their next December meeting.
One component of the code he said needs amending is that there is no district-wide policy on cell phone use.
“This creates a burden on teachers to have to come up with their specific policy and then enforce it and communicate it to families,” he said. “We’re looking to make district-wide policies for each school level that will be clearly posted on a school’s website.”
A lot of schools don’t have any sort of device policy, said committee member Cathy Thompson.
She said an amended code of conduct should include AirPods and other earphones because students often have those in their ears and are not paying attention in class or walking in the halls.
“Fundamentally, it needs to be done at the school level because an elementary school is likely going to be different from a middle or a high school policy,” Thompson said.
Leonard agreed it’s important for school levels to have different policies, saying there’s often a different need for cell phones depending on if a student is in elementary school, or if they are in high school and possibly working jobs to help their family.
This case-by-case mindset holds true for the district’s attendance policy as well.
The current code states that 25 days missed results in a violation notice sent to the parents of a student, and 45 missed days results in a violation of the attendance policy and parents will be requested to meet with school personnel to develop an “alternative educational program.”
Many times, Leonard said, the student with chronic absenteeism will not be allowed to progress to the next grade level the following year.
“The policy is really outdated and very unclear on attendance,” Thompson said. “So we’re looking at it to make sure it is what the law requires and is conducive to our expectation that students will be in school every day.”
She did not say if she wanted to increase or decrease the absences required to trigger a violation.
Leonard said the policy is from the ‘90s and needs to have leeway for students who might have to take care of their siblings, grandparents or work multiple jobs in high school, which would cause them to miss days.
The last major topic of discussion pertained to the current code’s restrictions of large instruments or athletic gear on school buses.
“Musical instruments, athletic equipment and school projects brought on the bus must fit between the student’s legs and not be placed on the seat or in the aisle,” the code currently states.
But, this isn’t always practical, both Leonard and Thompson said.
He said items like cellos or drum sets, as well as athletic gear such as baseball bats, “need to be put into the policy so it is clearly covered.”
Mark Pruitt, chair of the committee, tasked the members to divvy up what issue they wanted to amend. The members will work together to write a fresh draft that will be discussed at the committee’s Dec. 14 meeting.
Any proposed amendments or changes to the code of conduct will need to be voted on and approved by Red Clay’s school board before implementation.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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