Thursday, May 24, 2012

Damn the Torpedoes!

A few weeks ago I was impressed at how I had gotten over 30,000 hits with the blog. In the past week I have gotten over 60,000 hits!  Soon I will "go Platinum"! This is mostly because of one snarky and cathartic rant about AYD being disciplined for “inappropriate dress” despite the fact that she was dressed in a way that any reasonable eye would see as conservative. The essay has been mirrored and excerpted by a host of other much more popular sites. The Huffington Post picked it up and even edited it to the point that it looks like I use the English language like a pro [Thank you Emma and Farah].Yay!

I promised to do something positive with the input, and I intend to keep that promise. The amount and quality of the input has been such that most actions on par with it are really beyond my means. I plan on doing what I do well as action, and that is calmly talking to people. I plan on starting with the principal, and then going to the district superintendent. I will try and capture those meetings for the readers of this blog.

Because AYD (which stands for Awesome Youngest Daughter for those of you who are new to reading my blog) has her last day of school Friday I have put off confronting the School’s principal. Partially out of a reasonable fear of retribution for perceived attacks (he will not be too pleased at the large number of people who call him a “perv”) but mostly because AYD has asked me to. Well…Friday is tomorrow, and I have called in to be put on the principal’s calendar for a short meeting.

Part of me wants to be aggressive about my concerns, but I will not be. I am worried that the meeting will be a letdown where questions are deflected and answers are either forthcoming or made to questions the principal wants to answer rather than the ones I’ve asked.

I have three main points I wish to address:

  1. The dress code policy is unreasonable and needs to be re-visited before school starts again next year. Changes need to be made in the revision , and performing a rubber-stamp on current policy by examining only selected input will be unacceptable.
  2.  The disciplinary actions taken for minor infractions are family-unfriendly, and put the school at odds with the community. Reasonably dressed individuals should be treated reasonably. If there is a dress-code breaking incident that is clearly borderline the student will have a note or e-mail sent home explaining the violation, asking the parents to correct the violation, and clearly explaining that it was a borderline violation. In no cases will borderline violations be identified by senior staff at the school; their dress-code enforcement time will be spent on egregious violations which disrupt the classroom or demean the students. 
  3.  That taking AYD to the office, and preventing her from attending class made the minor violation more important than whatever was to be covered in class that day. As a parent and member of the community I think that arrangement of priorities is wrong. I think it is damaging to the school and my daughter. I have gotten input from many parents at the school and thousands of other concerned individuals. Effort must be made to readdress these priorities and get them in line with what is widely considered reasonable.

Do you think I’m coming on too strong? Do you think I’m soft pedaling? Do you have any suggestions for other things I should ask or bring up?

12 comments:

rmhartman said...

Have you considered that it was not the clothing that was actually at issue, but rather this was some sort of retaliation for your blog being taken out upon AYD ? I have not read the backlog here, so I do not know how much you have taken the local schools to task for anything ... but, it may be something to consider. "Selective enforcement" indeed.

Anonymous said...

I think you are entirely to reasonable! Go get em!

Collect some of those comments (from other parents) in writing, if he blows you off follow up.

Have you considered homeschooling?

Ill be watching your blog, good luck!

BreezieGirl said...

I was sent over from HuffPost and kept reading... I think this is an excellent response to the situation.

I think that it shows careful and considerate though, especially given the delay between the incident and the meeting. Furthermore, it reflects on the needs of the community when you could have dropped it since AYD is moving on to another school.

The only suggestion I might make would be that in the event of a beyond borderline (or borderline even if the school so chooses), the parents still do not need to be called away from work for a dress code violation. At my junior high and high school, kids were asked to change into their P.E. clothes if their regular clothes were in violation. This corrects the situation and also respects the students' learning, teachers' class time, and parents' work.

There are some who call me... Tim said...

It seems like you are restraining yourself based on AYD's request, which is actually darn fine of you. I am curious as to what AOD thinks of it - did she have to deal with the same principal or the same rules?

One suggestion - if you have not yet done so, collect some samples of the yearbook pics you referenced in your earlier entry that showed shorter skirts/dresses yet were still allowed, along with the picture of your AYD from that day of infamy, and go wild on the "selective enforcement" theme.

Good luck.

Nathan Pralle said...

You've clearly thought this out and your responses are sane, calm, and rational. You're on a great track to trying to effect change that is reasonable and measured.

One suggestion: It struck me that there ought to be somewhat of a clause in the policy that allows the determining person to act upon the situation in a "common sense" fashion. If a person with a skirt the length of your daughter's was also wearing a borderline blouse and the look was clearly evocative, I believe that should be treated harder than your daughter's outfit which was, in all respects top-to-bottom, conservative and respectful. There's so many grey areas that one ought to be able to use sense in their decision-making (although I realize how rare that is these days).

Good luck!

Steve Outing said...

I think you're being entirely too reasonable. The principal made a bone-headed decision, and I bet it's not his first. (My guess is that the teachers in that school are none too fond of their boss, if this is an example of his judgment.)

Social media is turning out to be a great way to influence things like this that otherwise would not change. Take the lesson of the 9-year-old schoolgirl in Scotland who started a blog where she reviewed and took photos of her school lunches, which were of course horrible. The blog went viral, internationally, and the embarrassed school officials suddenly upgraded their lunches.

I hope you don't let this principal get away with this. He should at the least be publicly humiliated, and at the most be fired by his superintendent. Sorry to be so harsh, but in my kids' schools I've seen some principals that should not be in that job (as well as some great ones). But the bad ones are practically impossible to remove.

(Actually, you've already publicly humiliated him since your post got on HuffPost. We just don't know his name, but everyone in your community surely does.)

newjerseybadger said...

I think your comments, as an opening position, are entirely reasonable.

I think you could also, without seeming unreasonable to the audience (the principal's perceptions are clearly moot), state the expectation that this incident will be stricken from your daughter's academic record, based on the selective enforcement you have identified through the yearbook pictures.

Ann said...

Good luck; some schools and districts are worse than others. I'm homeschooling next year and then moving specifically because it's that bad here. You might actually get someone reasonable. Sit at the head of the table so they can't have side conversations around you, and sit facing the door so no one can sneak in after the meeting starts. One of my children has a disability and these are the tricks you learn when you have meetings a few times a year.

Anonymous said...

Larry Abraham - labraham@tooeleschools.org
http://www.flickr.com/photos/utahpubliceducation/7074495279/

Depressed Mormon Mommy said...

These are completely legitimate parental concerns. And don't let the principal and school district try to play this off like "ah well, end of the year, no biggie". It is not okay to treat our children like this. Your daughter is clearly capable, intelligent and well-supported. But what happens the next time this principal chooses to pick on some poor girl who does not have that same sense of self confidence? Bullying is UnAcceptable. ESPECIALLY when it is by the people who are supposed to be making our children safe.

Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind about dress codes is that they don't take into consideration the length of the skirts or pants available for purchase and the height of the girl. If your daughter is taller, then clothes that are fine on a shorter gal will be too short on her and most times it is extremely difficult to find something that really would be long enough. Please bring that up to your principal and school board so that can be taken into consideration in the dress code revision.

By the way, I work at a college and your daughter looks GREAT compared to most of what I see here.

Anonymous said...

Bill the school for the lost work time. If its not paid, tell the principal he will hear from your lawyer with damages and interest.

I am so glad I went to a Catholic school with uniforms, and yes, the Seniors violated the dress code all year. We knew how far to go. Usually the school tie with a double breasted jacket. Hey, if it was good enough for Mick.......