JPS Updates Language In Student Dress Code | News, Sports, Jobs – Jamestown Post Journal

  • September 14, 2022

Sep 14, 2022
An update to the student dress code at Jamestown Public Schools was included in the district’s code of conduct that was approved Tuesday.
A public hearing on the code of conduct was held prior to a meeting of the school board. As noted by Jessie Joy, chief information officer, school districts are required by New York state to establish a code of conduct and then must review those plans annually.
Included in Jamestown Public Schools’ code of conduct is the student dress code. Joy said as part of this year’s review, the district wanted to revisit the dress code to ensure its language wasn’t in conflict with the CROWN Act, a bill signed into law in 2019 that prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles.
A committee that included students, parents, teachers and administrators helped to review and make updates to the dress code. The committee “provided a wide array of viewpoints,” Joy said. “There were some challenging conversations that they had the opportunity to facilitate as part of that process.”
Joy said the committee worked through a series of guiding questions. They included why the district needed a student dress code; whether office referral data showed there was inequality or imbalance; whether there were examples of discriminatory practices in school dress codes; and reviewing how other school districts have established equitable expectations for student dress.
Joy provided a portion of the previous student dress code. She noted that the committee found some of its language to be “outdated, inappropriate or biased” that might target certain racial or ethnic groups. Examples included descriptions of headwear such as “stocking caps” and “skull caps” as well as clothing specific to females.
“The committee had to really wrestle with some of this language in whether it might be used to target certain students more than other students,” Joy said.
New language in the student dress code approved Tuesday is now more “general and clear,” Joy said, who added, “The committee worked very, very hard to establish high standards and expectations for student dress that were free of bias.”
For example, new language in the dress code states: “Student dress must be safe, respectful, and responsible as to not disrupt or interfere with the education process.”
It also states: “Headwear is not permitted unless mandated by verifiable religious requirements or verifiable medical reasons,” as well as, “Clothing, including headwear, is not to include items that advocate violence, sex, profanity, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, or that encourage illegal or violent activities.”
Members of the school board unanimously approved the 2022-23 district code of conduct later in the school board meeting.
Afterward, Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, was asked of the process to have the student dress code updated.
“I think the process is important because it involved our stakeholders,” Whitaker said. “It involved parents and kids and teachers and staff and administrators as well. It’s not something that’s done behind closed doors or invented by an individual. It’s a committed process that gets input from all sorts of stakeholders.”
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