Dress code discussed by PRC School Board

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Monday’s Pearl River County School Board meeting began with an approval of the May 7 minutes and a report by Superintendent Alan Lumpkin. Lumpkin said that on May 29, a record 239 students graduated from Pearl River Central High School.

“PRC is alive and growing for sure. We’re thankful to our community for supporting the bond issue,” Lumpkin said.

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After Lumpkin’s report, the consent agenda and the financial matters were approved.

In another matter, a request was made to approve handbooks for the district and all campuses for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. Board member Jeff Jones said he wanted to see the changes to the handbooks before approving them. He said he was given a copy of the new handbook, but did not have the previous book for reference.

While discussing that topic, Board member Jeremy Weir addressed a concern about the current dress code. He said the current length regulation for skirts, dresses and shorts is that these clothes should not be higher than three inches above the knee. He said recently his daughter, who is a junior in high school was removed from class because her shorts were ¼ of an inch above the minimum length.

“I have an issue with you taking out a ruler and measuring my child’s shorts,” Weir said to members of the dress code committee. “It’s demeaning. When you ruin a child’s day for ¼ of an inch, that needs to change.”

Lumpkin said the three-inch guideline is in the district-wide guidebook for all ages. Despite this, he encouraged the committee to look into the possibility of adopting an alternative method, such as the “fingertip” method, as a way of measuring appropriate length of attire.

While on the topic of dress code, Bond Committee student Chair Gage McClinton requested the Board consider allowing students to wear any kind of T-shirt, not just Pearl River Central shirts, to school. He said in light of the bond passing, which will increase taxes on the surrounding community, allowing students to wear non-PRC shirts would allow families to save money on uniforms. He said it would also increase student morale, since several students with low attendance told him that they would attend more often if they could wear clothes other than the District uniform. McClinton added that these clothes would be required to meet standards described in the guidelines to avoid offensive or inappropriate clothing.

Kelli Beech, who is a member of the dress code committee, said they originally turned down the suggestion because they were concerned that students would wear graphics that, while not traditionally “offensive,” may be offensive to other students – such as obscure gang signs.  Weir suggested allowing students to wear plain, graphic-free T-shirts as an alternative, since it would cut costs for families while still allowing restrictions on what could be worn.

It was later decided that approval of the handbooks would be tabled until the June 21 public budget hearing.

A motion was passed to consider approving the proposal from Intru-Door to install safety classroom doors and door window features at the high school, middle school and alternative school.

Weir immediately made a motion to approve the installation, but Voss said she had reservations.

“I have concerns we’re going to be potentially locking kids and students in who need to get out,” Voss said.

Lumpkin said the door and door window locks do not prevent students or teachers from leaving the room, but rather prevent anyone from entering during a school-wide lockdown. He said that if the Board was not comfortable with the safety devices, they could keep looking, but said that it is going to be impossible to find a failsafe security device.

After discussing the matter with several audience members, a vote was taken to determine whether the devices would be installed. The motion passed with Jones and Weir voting yea, and Voss voting nay.

The agenda was amended at the advice of attorney Jim Woung to ensure the proceedings in regard to the bond were accurate. Afterwards, the election results were approved and authorization was given to issue the General Obligation Bonds in the amount of $18.5 million.

A public budget hearing was officially scheduled to take place on June 21, at 5 p.m. in the Boardroom.