The Stuttgart School District held their first virtual school board meeting Tuesday at 5:30 via Zoom which was shared on the district’s Facebook Page.
During the Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Rick Gales addressed student handbook changes for the 2021 edition.
One request was to allow students to wear hoodies to school but take them off when they arrived. Gales states headwear was needed for students who rode the bus.
School board member Jennifer Payton advocated to include jean wear every day, stating studies proved that dress codes do not affect learning.
School board member Carla Gipson replied that jeans shouldn’t be worn every day and Candace Prine agreed students look good in their uniform.
Another suggested change to the dress code was to add black slacks and instead of two inches above the knee when it came to wearing shorts, allow a five inch inseam instead.
Payton said she has to get her uniforms specially made for her children to meet the current requirement.
Though Gales said he didn’t have a problem adding the color black to the dress code, many of the administrators felt adding black would create a problem.
As members agreed to disagree between the changes and suggestions, school board member Todd Barnes suggested they get rid of the uniformity all together.
“It’s watered down to where we need to get rid of it,” said Barnes. “Let’s either have one or not. It gets chipped down every year. I’m tired of messing with it.”
According to Payton, the Stuttgart School District doesn’t have a uniform, instead they have a restricted dress code.
Even with the restricted dress code, SSD President Napoleon Davis said in Stuttgart, uniforms are hard to find.
“I have trouble finding pants no matter what color,” said Davis.
Davis adds the problem is having an ample supply of uniforms for the students.
Davis agreed that uniformity was a good look.
Jeans were excluded from the everyday wear, but will remain on the last day of the week still following the guidelines of no holes, tears, or rips.
Barnes suggested all the changes be written up and presented back to the board at a later date. At one point Barnes got up and was seen pacing back and forth as the board members continued to discuss the dress code.
In conclusion, Gales said he would write up the changes as suggested by Barnes, present it to the administrators for review before bringing it back to the board.
Board member Bryan Hancock addressed cellphones and felt administration should be held accountable for students who have their cell phones out in class. At one point during the meeting Hancock recommended not having cell phones at all.
“I don’t see a reason why they need to have them,” said Hancock.
Currently the policy only allows grades 7-12 to have their cellphones during their lunch period.
“My concern is we expelled some good kids who made bad choices and it was done during the time cell phones weren’t allowed,” said Bryan. “I want to make sure administrators are enforcing the policy.”
Davis reminded the board that in previous years cellphone removal was suggested but an overwhelming response by the board at that time was “no”.
Davis said punishment does need to be consistent for everyone across the board.
According to Gales the principals want to enforce the cell phone rules that are already in place, stating if phones are out, they are confiscated until the end of the day.
In other business the board voted to continue pay to faculty and staff during the COVID-19 crisis.
Gales said they are working on how they can still fulfill some of their duties by working from home or working reduced or alternate hours.