By Terry Rogers
On Monday, November 16,, Dr. Phyllis Kohel, Superintendent of Milford School District, said that she was convening the dress code committee in order to review current policy. Dr. Kohel notified all school principals via email that she wanted each school to select a group of teachers, parents and students in order to determine if the policy needed any changes, suggestions or deletions. Before Dr. Kohel made her announcement, Mrs. Blevins, the parent of two children in the district, spoke to the board about concerns she had at the high school.
“Before I speak, I want to make it known that I am in support of the current dress code and always have been,” Mrs. Blevins said. “It makes it much easier to purchase school clothes and there are no arguments about what my children are wearing to school each day. However, I took umbrage with a recent robo-call I received from the school regarding enforcement of the outerwear policy.”
According to Mrs. Blevins, her daughter suffers from a medical condition that causes her to be cold-natured. Her daughter dresses in layers in an effort to keep warm, but many rooms in the high school are kept at low temperatures, Mrs. Blevins explained. In addition to the cool classrooms, Mrs. Blevins said that her daughter attends a class in one of the modular units which requires her to go outdoors in order to get to class. Since she does not have time to get to a locker prior to that class, she often carries a jacket that is all black, with no collar or hood, so that she can be warm getting to and from class. Mrs. Blevins said that her daughter was in class earlier in the week and a thermometer in the room read that it was 66 degrees. Her daughter had her jacket over her legs for warmth and was instructed by the teacher to remove it. She said that her daughter had been reprimanded in the hallway several times for wearing or carrying the jacket.
“Students cannot concentrate if they are cold,” Mrs. Blevins said. “I would like to see the dress code amended so that students could wear specific types of jackets, such as sports team jackets or ones without hoods. I understand they should not wear things that will obscure their faces, but I feel that students should be able to wear outerwear that meets certain criteria in order to be warm while attending school.”
Dr. Kohel agreed with Mrs. Blevins, stating that she had received many calls from parents and from teachers regarding the no jacket policy. She said that one of the teachers reported to her that his classroom was 66 degrees and pointed out the difficulty in regulating the temperature in a building the age of the high school. Dr. Kohel said that she wanted to recommend that students be permitted to wear sweatshirts or jackets in the building as long as they meet certain criteria.
The board agreed that, as of Tuesday, November 17, students at all schools would be permitted to wear outerwear with certain restrictions. Sweatshirts and jackets must be crew neck without hoods. Both jackets and sweatshirts must be in colors approved for polos required under the dress code which must be navy, gold, yellow, maroon, white or black. If the jacket has a school sport or club logo, it may be of any size, but any other logo, such as a manufacturer logo, must be no larger than a fifty-cent piece. Both jackets and sweatshirts must fit the student and may not be oversized.
“I think that sounds reasonable and acceptable,” said Jason Kalagyian, student representative to the school board, when asked if he thought students would agree to those suggestions. “I think students will feel like this is a win because it has been a problem for a while.” Mrs. Blevins also felt that Dr. Kohel had come up with an excellent solution to the issue. Dr. Kohel agreed to email all administrators to inform them of the change in policy and to send an Alert Now message to parents informing them of the change, which occurred last week.
In addition to the dress code policy, the board was provided a copy of the district’s new Suicide Prevention Policy. According to Dr. Kohel, every school district is required to have a suicide policy per Department of Education requirements. Dr. Kohel said that she had created the policy using templates provided by DOE, social service agencies and other school districts. It was presented to the board for review and will be presented again at the December board meeting for approval.
The board also approved a class size waiver required under DOE regulations. According to Sara Croce, Chief Financial Officer, the district must request a waiver for any Kindergarten through third grade classrooms that exceed 22 students. For the current school year, two classrooms in the district exceed that number. There is one classroom at Mispillion Elementary with 23 students and one at Banneker Elementary with 24 students. The board unanimously approved the waiver which will now be sent to DOE.