Letters to the Editor 05-20-14

As a former public schoolteacher, I wholeheartedly support Alexandria Tong’s column. It is ironic that those who crafted the dress code policy and those who enforce it get to enjoy the comforts of air conditioning while the students and faculty suffer from the high heat.
Superintendent Dean Wittwer, through his action of rejecting the state’s offer for make-up days due to calamity weather, demonstrated that it is not about students putting time in but more about “learning.” However, every educator knows that extreme heat is not conducive to learning.
It was 88 degrees the day FHS students wore tank tops. Even in the comfort of an air-conditioned office, it is my wager that even Wittwer removed his sports jacket to make himself more comfortable. Moreover, and most importantly, school officials know that students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate as demonstrated by Tinker v. Des Moines.
Assistant Superintendent Craig Kupferberg stated that “we want students to focus on their work,” but, in reality, they are unable to due to the heat. He also stated that “we want the students to dress appropriately.” The students in fact were dressed for the weather so I would argue that they were dressed appropriately. Several students told me that so many were in violation of the dress code that in-school assignments were held in the gymnasium. Obviously, a larger number of students were affected than what the administration wanted to let on.
In our state-operated schools, FHS is not an enclave of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess the absolute authority over their students. Students in school, as well as out, are “persons” under our Constitution.
The dress code must show that it is more than just the mere desire to avoid discomfort or distaste. Furthermore, where there is no finding or no showing that the forbidden conduct would “materially and substantially” interfere with the school day, the prohibition cannot stand.
More importantly, school district officials must consistently apply the dress code. Exceptions are made for some, but not all, and there is no legal support for discriminately and selectively applying the dress code.
School officials should either allow students the same comfort that they themselves enjoy or modify the dress code during high heat so learning can occur.
Dan Roberts

Hot diggity. My 15 minutes finally got here. Shucks, it was like getting three lumps of sugar in my morning coffee.
I got to tell you, Mr. Bruce Haynes (letter, May 15), I was honored to be mentioned in the same letter with Mr. Don Iliff.
I am also proud that you feel blessed when you read letters by Mr. Terry Cook, Mr. Iliff, and myself, although I think blessed is a tad much. I’d say that word would be more appropriate in a Barbara Rice letter, like her tribute to Iliff on May 15. While I have long admired Iliff’s letters, I simply had no idea he was a bus driver as well.
As to Cook, I did not realize that hemp was outlawed in this country in 1937 until I read his last letter.
Again, thanks much, Mr. Haynes. Oh, by the way, do you have any idea where Brooklyn Park, Minnesota is?
Jim Brant



About the Author