Despite some mixed emotions concerning a proposed revision to Sampson County Schools dress code policy allowing high school students to wear shirts outside their pants, the measure passed by a 4-2 vote at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
With no public comment and in front of an almost empty county auditorium, the school board took only three minutes to talk about — and vote to allow high school students to let their shirts go un-tucked in all county high schools, as long as those shirts don’t hang below a student’s crotch area. The revision was proposed last week after meetings with school administrators, principals and students.
The measure only impacts high school students.
At least two board members shared their concerns about the policy last week. Glenn Tart was the most vocal in his opposition to the revision last week, noting that the inconsistency of the board’s policy would not be a good sign of leadership.
“We spent a lot of time working with the communities trying to adopt our dress code and now we are basically snatching it out,” he said. “To me, it’s the most signature part of the code. We are just gutting it and telling them, just go ahead and do what you want.”
On Monday night, Tart stuck to his guns, voting against the revision.
Ironically, member G.H. Wilson, who agreed with Tart last week, voted against the revision Monday night. Instead it was colleague Dewain Sinclair who sided with Tart in casting the dissenting votes.
“I was not at the work session, but the thing I get hung up on is two separate policies,” Sinclair said before the vote. “I think that the policies should be consistent throughout the system; that is just my personal opinion.”
Board chairman Telfair Simpson explained to Sinclair that through discussions it was discovered that middle school principals liked the tuck-in policy but the high school principals voted against it, citing the difficulty to enforce it on a daily basis.
“With this we are trying to address both of their wishes,” Simpson said about the revision.
Although it has been in place for the past three years, and examined each year by the board, the tuck-in rule has become a topic of discussion on several occasions, which is why superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker met with each of the system principals over the past few months to see what could be done to tweak the code. During those meetings, it was only the high school principals who indicated they were having trouble enforcing the code and offered suggested policy changes in the dress code pertaining to tucked-in shirts and blouses.
Lenker presented the revision to board members last week during a work session, requesting the change to accommodate those principals’ wishes. It was then placed on Monday night’s agenda.
Without board member Sonja Powell present, the board forged ahead with the vote. Powell said last week she supported the change.
“Before we proceed, we all know this has been somewhat of a sensitive topic, but it has also been a topic that has had a lot of interest,” noted Simpson. “A lot of thought was put into this by each of the board members, as well as other personnel and students in our school system. This was not taken lightly.”
Board member Mary Brown made the motion to approve and Faye Gay seconded it.
Tart and Sinclair voted against, while Brown, Gay, Simpson and Wilson voted to approve.
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