Letter to the Editor

SHS dress code article

Friday, September 10, 2021

In response to the Sept. 6 article posted in the Spencer Daily Reporter titled: “Petition against SHS dress code enforcement tops 1,500 signatures.”

At Spencer Schools, we take great pride in our students, our staff, our schools and our community. We have students who want to learn and grow as individuals. We have staff who want to teach and prepare children to be successful in the world they will enter after leaving Spencer Schools. We have parents who want for their children to succeed in life and grow up to be good people. Finally, we have a community that has always been supportive of our schools.

We also take pride in the positive learning environment that our staff and administrators work so hard to create for all students. Programs that we have in place, such as the Capturing Kids Hearts program promotes the development of positive relationships among students, and between students and staff members. These efforts are intentional and meant to help all students feel comfortable and supported.

I was disappointed that this article publicly accuses staff members at Spencer High School of inappropriate actions as they were trying to enforce the rules that help to provide a welcoming environment for all. There have been no first-hand accounts of any staff members asking or requiring any student to raise their arms or to bend over to check for the appropriate dress or for any other reason.

The article provides an inaccurate description of our schools and our staff. The article relies on hearsay and second/third hand accounts of what supposedly happened. I am here to tell you that investigations of the allegations have found no inappropriate actions by any staff members. If any inappropriate actions had taken place, those actions would be corrected.

The now, widespread assumptions being made are not accurate and are demeaning to our staff members who are trying to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students.

Below is a list of accurate, factual information that needs to be shared with the community:

• No student was ever asked to raise their arms nor to bend over. Dress code violations are not a regular occurrence at SHS. When they occur, the student is typically spoken to by a principal or school counselor.

• Just as teachers stand at the door of their classroom to welcome students each day, administrators stand at the entrances to welcome students to the building.

• Every fall Mr. Beehler and other school administrators go through the handbook with students, after which students sign off to indicate they understand the handbook. This includes a rationale for the dress code and a consequence in the event the dress code is not followed.

• Because students have signed their name to acknowledge they understand the handbook, including the dress code, if a student must go home in order to change clothes to comply, the subsequent absence is deemed unexcused. The consequence for an unexcused absence is 50 minutes of detention which may be served any time; serving the detention is not required to be immediate as stated by the newspaper.

• Code 502.1 is the School Board Policy regarding Student Appearance. The SHS handbook provides more specific guidance for students and parents.

• The headline reads "Petition against dress code ..." — the student in the Sept. 6 article stated that her position is not one against the dress code, but rather against the enforcement of the dress code.

• The meeting between Mr. Dible and students included two concerned students, not several. A female staff member joined this meeting.

• Upon learning that past precedent for proposing changes to any policy or practice welcomes student voice, begins with a conversation between the high school administration and students, and does not rise to the level of the school board immediately, the student acknowledged that she understood.

It is our hope that this information provides clarification and creates a better understanding of the issue, and we look forward to continued community trust and support which are essential to a successful school district.