District 117 is looking at possibly modifications to dress codes at the high school, junior high and elementary schools.
A rather lengthy discussion took place at District 117’s Board meeting earlier this week, with several board members expressing different positions on the topic.
Superintendent Steve Ptacek says dress code issues typically create contentions within schools and the community, as local residents hold wide-ranging opinions on the matter.
“The issue of dress code always creates a level of controversy. Even within this community I know we’ve got people who have drastically different opinions on what the dress code should be within the schools. I honestly think the dress code needs to be value-based from the community, and that’s the Board’s ultimate decision about what the dress code should be for the schools. So I want them to reexamine the dress code for the elementary level, junior high level and high school level for next year,” says Ptacek.
Ptacek says it’s important that board members are realistic about dress codes and anticipate potential feedback from the community.
“I want (board members) to have a very realistic understanding of the limitations we are on nowadays when it comes to suspending students or sending students home. I asked the Board that the expectation on how we handle things are very realistic and also to understand that if you have extreme statements about what our dress code should be, you’re going to have members of your community in strong opposition to that and vice-versa,” says Ptacek.
He explains how dress code enforcement relates to state lawmakers’ expectations.
“If we send a student home, even for dress code, that counts as a suspension. Other than that, Senate Bill 100 is telling us, basically, we should be utilizing our suspensions for anything that is threatening to other students or a severe disruption to the academic environment. You’ve got to put an easy answer that it seems, of sending kids home, into the perspective of the game we’re playing now when it comes to legislative expectations on school districts,” Ptacek says.
There have been no clear-cut decisions made regarding dress codes to this point. The Board hopes to continue having discussions on the matter and consider its impact on community members.