School board: Dress code outdated?

Published 9:31 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Beaufort County Schools dress code came up for discussion in the last board meeting.
Board member Carolyn Walker questioned the policy against piercings. The policy states, “jewelry affixed to the nose, tongue, cheek, lip or eyebrow” is prohibited.
Walker said a lot of students had the piercings and asked if the policy was being enforced or whether it was up to the staff to decide.
Superintendent of Schools Don Phipps had an answer.
“My thought is if it’s a policy and it’s written down, it needs to be enforced,” he said.
The feedback from teachers was mixed. Board members had heard teachers say student behavior improved with the last policy change. Others told them a strict dress code was not necessary.
Walker said she did not see the harm in piercings.
“You’ll never find me with a nose piercing, but I don’t think it disrupts,” Walker said.
Board member Teressa Banks compared the size of some piercings to a speck of glitter.
Chairman Cindy Winstead was in favor of leaving the policy as it was. She said piercings were not acceptable in many professional settings and should not be acceptable on campus.
Winstead is a nursing instructor at East Carolina University where she says students must cover the piercings.
The last revision of the student dress code was in 2009 when board members wanted to put a stop to the baggy jeans trend.
Board member Terry Williams said the dress code might be the one policy the board does not want to broach. He did question whether or not the dress code was outdated, especially the jeans policy.
“Does it really matter if a child comes to school in blue jeans if they have their belt on and them pulled up? I don’t think so,” he said.
He added that jeans were an affordable option for parents that students should be allowed to wear.
Board member Barbara Boyd-Williams questioned why teachers were not allowed to wear denim. When others said jeans were viewed as unprofessional, Boyd-Williams disagreed. She said times had changed and denim was acceptable in many workplaces.
“I think we’ve opened up a can of worms,” Winstead said.
The discussion was tabled with no action taken.
The school board will meet for its monthly work session June 4 at 4:30 p.m. The regular board meeting is set for June 18 at 5:30 p.m.