Some parents and students are chafing under the Reynoldsburg school district’s new uniform policy, but board members contend that it has been a good fit for most.
At the Sept. 18 board meeting, parent Montesha Hickman said that she supports the policy started this school year, but questions the disciplinary measures being taken for students who are not in compliance.
She said that her son, a student at Baldwin Road Junior High School, was taken out of class because he did not have on a belt, one of the required items under the "Raider Wear" policy.
"That’s not a punishment," she stated. "13-year-old boys don’t care about missing class."
She suggested that, instead of losing class time, students could be given after-school detentions for first infractions.
Baldwin Road Principal Terrance Hubbard said most students at his school have been complying with the policy, and the number of infractions goes down every day that students and parents become accustomed to the expectations.
Most of the slips have been not wearing belts, he acknowledged. Parents are called and asked to bring the required item, and most students are out of class an average of 45 minutes, the principal said.
High school student John Mohr also commented that he felt the enforcement has been heavy-handed.
He heard that freshmen, on the first of orientation, were rounded up and taken to the auditorium if they were out of uniform.
Intimidating new students doesn’t seem like the best way to welcome them to the school, Mohr said.
He also objected to students having to pay $7 for a new ID badge and lanyard if they show up without their tag.
High school Principal Diane Mankins defended the actions taken on the first day, noting that it important to make sure the policy is being followed from the start.
Student Jacob Mayhew said that it is a waste of time for teachers to be dress code monitors.
"Teachers get their degrees so they can teach, not so they can enforce a policy like this," Mayhew said.
Board member Mary Jane Underwood countered that teaching the rules and the importance of following them is also part of an educator’s job.
Other issues have arisen, from students arriving from outside programs to extremes of heat and cold at the high school, the board heard.
Board President Cheryl Max said everyone she has been approached by in the community, event hose who initially objected to the policy, has been supportive.
After only a month, it’s not time to alter a policy that has run into few problems, the board president added.
In other business, the board approved a three-year contract with its teachers’ union, providing 3 percent raises each year of the agreement. The contract covers about 400 employees.
According to Treasurer Mitch Biederman, the contract also calls for employees to contribute more for their health coverage.
Teachers ratified the contract earlier this month.
Biederman said the new contract was negotiated over two sessions, including one with a federal mediator. The last time the district entered into talks with the union, negotiations took several months and led to accusations of bargaining in bad faith from the union.