Later this year, it will reconsider its dress code for elementary and middle school students, and it has approved allowing high school students more freedom to use cellphones at school.
BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas told trustees at their monthly meeting Tuesday evening that what caused her to reconsider the dress code was her buying school clothes for her grandchildren.
“I went shopping for solid-color shirts,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to find any in Beeville. I had to go to Victoria. Plaid seems to be the thing to wear today.”
Principals she contacted said it was too late to change the dress code before school begins because notices about the code already have been sent to parents.
Thomas says she will form a committee this October consisting of teachers, parents and students to consider how to revise the code.
“I don’t think any of the parents will revolt against us if we change it,” Thomas said, noting that a more relaxed dress code had been in effect at the high school since before she became superintendent.
Trustee Matt Huie urged more commonality among the dress codes for elementary, middle and high school students.
“There’s a big discrepancy between the third grade, the sixth grade and the 10th grade,” he said. “Trying to explain to one of your kids why they have to wear something different from another one of your kids is pretty ridiculous.”
Dee Dee Bernal, who moved as principal under the recent BISD restructuring from FMC Elementary to the high school, then told the board she favored fewer restrictions on student cellphone use.
She plans to grant “a little more latitude” by allowing students to use their phones during the lunch hour, for instance, but never in a formal teaching environment.
“It’s a huge battle,” she said. “These kids can text with their cellphones in their pockets. And, parents often call their kids while they are at school.”
She told trustees that her generation was not as comfortable with high tech tools as the students. “I think they are born talking on a cellphone.”
Students are fined $15 for each cellphone violation. “We had one student who paid $300 in fines,” Bernal said.
Huie suggested that she enforce the revised policy “with teeth.”
Thomas noted that state law only allowed a maximum fine of $15.
“Then fine them $15 when you confiscate the phone,” suggested Trustee John Fish, “and another $15 to get it back.”
The new policy goes into effect Monday, the first day of school.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.