By MORGAN MANNS
FOR THE COURIER
FOSTORIA — A lengthy conversation about the district dress code was held at the Fostoria school board meeting this week.
School officials, parents and students took part in the discussion, which was initiated by a few parents who feel staff are being too picky and inconsistent in enforcing the dress code.
One parent said her daughter was told to take her earrings out. Another said a teacher was going to give her daughter a detention because her shoe had come untied.
There have been rumors of staff making students take their shoes off to ensure their socks were appropriate colors, or writing students up because their pants legs were too long.
“Last year there weren’t any problems, but this year there’s a lot of picking,” one parent said.
Fostoria Junior/Senior High School Principal Drew Bauman said he was not familiar with the specific incidents, but he spoke about increased emphasis on following the dress code.
“We gave them an inch and then that inch became a mile,” he said about previous years. “(Students) kept doing it because they were only getting warnings, not consequences.”
“My thing is, you all need to be on the same page,” one parent said, explaining how one teacher’s interpretation of the policy may differ from another’s, which puts students at a disadvantage.
Bauman assured the parents in attendance that officials would talk with staff and families to ensure everyone was on the same page, such as what defines dragging on the ground, and that jewelry can be worn as long as it is “simple in nature.”
Board member Heidi Kauffman suggested hosting some type of fashion show before the beginning of the school year, during an information night, so parents and families can see firsthand what is acceptable and appropriate to wear.
The conversation turned to families who might not be able to afford proper-fitting clothing for their students, making them come to school in attire that may be too big or too small, resulting in pants dragging on the floor or shirts that cannot be tucked in.
Superintendent Andrew Sprang said the district and community have rallied to provide less fortunate families with necessary school items such as clothing.
This summer, he said, the Leadership Seneca County class raised around $60,000 to help provide such articles to needy students.
“We sent out 1,200 invites and only 500 people returned them. You can take the horse to water but you can’t make it drink. In order to get the help, you have to ask,” he said about those hesitant to admit needing help. “We’re not going to go out and broadcast it. We need that open line of communication to know how we can help your student be compliant.”
Assistant Principal Mike Daring said, “The reason for the rejuvenated commitment to enforcing policy is because of the noncompliance, the blatant disregard for the dress code.”
He said some students are told to tuck in their shirt while in a hallway and once they get around the corner they untuck it again.
“Then it turns into insubordination when they’re not following the rules,” he continued. “Because we’re trying to increase the consistency within our staff with managing the dress code, it puts a lot of pressure on them to enforce the policy as it’s written.”