LHISD seeks dress code input

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

School dress codes have been a hot topic since the first school decided a skirt was too short and a face was not clean-shaven, and while Liberty Hill is no different in terms of the variety of opinions on the issue, the school district was not sure it was getting a clear picture of what the community wants in its guidelines.

To try and get a better grasp on all the opinions of the LHISD dress code and some general feedback on issues individuals are most concerned about, the district surveyed parents, staff and students on the issue.

“There was a dress code committee that was formed last year that was heavily populated by one side of the belief, and their opinion was the dress code was too strict and needed to be loosened up,” said Assistant Superintendent of Student and Operational Services Brad Mansfield. “It felt like it wasn’t capturing the entire community’s feeling on our current dress code. So we thought it was only fair to say ‘Let’s try to widen out the opinion and send it to the entire district including staff, students and parents.’”

The online survey garnered just over 2,000 responses.

“We got heavy parent response and pretty good staff response,” Mansfield said. “We’re to the point now where we need to organize the data into an executive summary.”

Rather than try and address specific issues, the survey was set up to allow respondents to voice their concerns specifically.

“The questions we chose were open-ended and we didn’t want to be very specific about one item or another item,” Mansfield said. “We just wanted to make it open ended and let people talk and get the comments down. I feel like if you start mentioning very specific things then you are going to mention everything in the dress code. I wanted people to have a chance to express what’s on their mind, not talk about what’s on ours.”

The questions included issues such as respondents’ opinion on the fairness of the current rules, how it represents the person’s values and whether there is any specific part people would like to see changed.

It was as important to Mansfield to get the staff and student perspective as well as the parents.

“We just wanted to know what they think about it on the staff end, and administration as well,” Mansfield said. “Does it meet the goals of their school and creating a safe and healthy environment with the least amount of distractions. We asked them the same questions as well.

“For the students we just wanted to know what they felt like,” he said. “Of course students are always going to want it to be looser. Most of them are going to want to be able to wear their hair the way they want, or earrings or whatever.”

The goal is to compile the data and then allow a pair of committees to discuss the results in October.

“The next step of this is to take these survey results and compile them into an executive summary and send them to a committee,” Mansfield said. “I would rather not have students on a committee with adults, I would want students to be able to speak freely. So we’re probably going to have a group of students that will look at these executive results and make some recommendations and then we’re going to have a group of parents and staff look at these results.”

Mansfield said there is no guarantee any changes will be made based on the survey or committee results.

“You’re never going to make 100 percent of the people happy about the dress code, but what we’re trying to do is before we make any kind of recommendation if we’re going to change it – and that’s a big if because it may not be changed – we’re trying to gather information on what might need to be looked at and changed.”

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