ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County educators should be held to a different standard in their dress than the students they lead, at least according to Bladen County Board of Education members, who said as much when the topic rose to the surface of Monday night’s board meeting.
The issue was brought to light when Supt. Robert Taylor informed the board that requests had been submitted for Spirit Week at various schools, and that dress codes were required for students who wanted to participate. At the end of the description of appropriate attire, Taylor added that school faculty must meet the same requirements as the students, a line that board member Roger Carroll wanted stricken from the code.
“We hire professionals,” said Carroll. “and they know how to dress professionally. They went to college and have a degree and know how to dress.”
He added that teachers are not required to wear uniforms, so their standard already differs from that of the students.
Board member Ophelia Munn-Goins countered that T-shirts and leggings are not professional attire, nor is “cleavage showing,” pointing out that not all educators are, in fact, dressing professionally.
Taylor informed board members that parents have been complaining about the dichotomy that exists between student and educator attire, since adults are allowed to wear boots with pants tucked into them, but students are not allowed to do so.
Carroll pointed out that when students go to college and get their degree, they may dress like the adults, and he suggested two different dress codes — one for students and one for educators.
Teacher Polly Hancock was in attendance at the meeting and weighed in on the discussion as well.
“If I were just out of college … and had the choice of which school system I were going to, and could go (to another school system) where I could be in fashion, I would want to go there,” said Hancock.
Munn-Goins suggested that the dress code be revised, since it was written when females wore looser clothes than what is currently in fashion.
Several board members agreed with Carroll’s suggestion to strike the clause, and Taylor said that he would remove it from the dress code.
In other action, the board:
— Heard from Jan Holt, a consultant with the Department of Agriculture, who recently inspected four schools to ensure that USDA foods were being handled, produced, stored, and served appropriately. She informed the board that no corrective action was required, and that the $187,636 being given in entitlement options to the system was being used effectively.
— Approved an E-rate Category 2 contract that would allow for upwards of $160,000 to be used to upgrade wired components of the system’s infrastructure at a cost to the system of $0.
— Heard from Anthony Hinson, who reported an opportunity, generally afforded to wealthier districts, for the system to participate in a Second Chance Summer Program. The program would allow students who do not fare well on the spring EOC to return for eight additional instructive days and then retake the EOC, whereupon the higher of the two scores would be recorded. Hinson said that transportation had been cost prohibitive, at a rate of $15,000 per day, but students in Bladen County would be responsible for their own transportation, so no cost would be incurred by the district. The board approved moving forward with the program.
— Recognized the Junior Beta Club from Tar Heel Middle School, the Senior Beta Club from East Bladen, the Science Olympiad from Tar Heel Middle, the Jr. Beta Club from Bladenboro Middle, and recognized Booker T. Washington, Elizabethtown Middle, and East Bladen for their attendance.
— Approved using N.C. Education Lottery funds to replace a roof at Booker T. Washington that was leaking over the media center and several classrooms. Penny reported that around $1.3 million remains in the fund.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.