No uniforms at South Panola, but stricter rules on dress code 7/19/2013

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2013

No uniforms at South Panola, but stricter rules on dress code

By Rupert Howell

Standard uniforms will not be the policy in South Panola Schools this upcoming year, but strict consistent enforcement is planned, trustees of the South Panola District were told last Tuesday at their monthly meeting by two administrators who were making their first official meeting as employees.

New superintendent Tim Wilder told trustees, “Frankly, if we can’t enforce this policy, we have some issues uniforms will not solve.

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Although a few small changes  were mentioned in the actual dress code, major changes mentioned by assistant Superintendent Charles Beene involved punishment and consistent enforcement.

Administrators also tweaked the current code to eliminate gender specific rules on advice from their attorney following a legal challenge from a transgender student the previous school year.
Punishment for breaking the school’s dress code includes, warning, parental conference and in-school suspension for violations one through three respectively.

“My suggestion is we fully enforce the policy and look at it again at Christmas and evaluate if we want to go further,” Wilder stated.

Trustee Buddy Gray has been a vocal proponent of uniforms and voted to accept the recommendation after stating that he thought uniforms would, “. . . solve more problems than they cause.”

Trustee Lygunnah Bean told board members and administrators, “Parents need to be educated to purchase what is conducive to our dress code,” noting that it was usually parents’ money that purchased students’ clothing.

Board President Sandra Darby and Bean both voiced concerned about the “bullying policy” being strictly enforced prior to a lengthy discussion about the electronic device policy, (no use of cell phones at school).

Wilder turned heads when he informed trustees that he had asked Technology Director Jay Sandlin to poll surrounding districts about a “use your own device” policy where students use cellphones or tablets for class study, mentioning districts that had already adopted the policy.
Several trustees admitted their own family members using the devices in church in place of a printed Bible.

Wilder said the policy, if adopted, would not go into effect this school year.

Other policy changes included more rigorous third grade promotion scores from a 65 average in two of three subjects including reading, math and English to a minimum of 65 in all three of those subjects.