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By Dave Rogers
For the Record 

OF parents try to pierce earring code

 

Last updated 10/26/2021 at 8:11pm

Dave Rogers

Scott Rollins asks the Orangefield school board to change its dress code to allow boys to wear earrings on campus at Monday's meetings. "Just because this is what we've always done doesn't mean we should always do it," he said.

A couple of parents pleaded for Orangefield's school district "to change with the times" Monday night.

Ashley Petty and Scott Rollins want their sons allowed to wear earrings to classes, they said in the public forum portion of the October school board meeting.

Currently, the school dress code for Orangefield Independent School District says earrings are prohibited for male students.

"My 10-year-old little boy has his ears pierced," Petty told the board members.

But the school dress code won't allow him to wear earrings.

"He asked me, 'Mom, if you and Dad say this is OK [to wear earrings], why does the school make me take them out?'"

Petty, who said she and her family moved to Orange County a couple of years ago, reported being told that Orangefield has had the same dress code ban on boys' earrings for 30 years.

"I was told, 'That's how things have been conducted here for the past 30 years.'" Petty said.

"Society has changed very much in 30 years. Things change, people change, communities change and evolve and grow. It's only natural.

"Actually, I'm a very conservative person, a youth minister for a church, and to me, an earring seems like such a small thing. But it matters to my son, and I think he should have the right to express himself."

Rollins said he has a 16-year-old who wears earrings.

"It's an outdated form of sexism," he posted about the school district's dress code on Facebook prior to the meeting.

At Monday night's meeting, he suggested the prohibition on boys wearing earrings was "a relic of some decades-old thinking.

"Just because this is what we've always done doesn't mean we should always do it."

Orangefield's local policy code says, "The district's dress code is established to teach grooming and hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruptions, avoid safety hazards and teach respect for authority."

It also says, "The student and parent may determine the student's personal dress and grooming standards – provided they comply with ... the student dress code."

Found in the Student Handbook, the dress code includes a lot of no-nos besides earrings on male students. Piercings (besides earrings for girls) are prohibited. Hair length is not an issue, as long as it's clean, not a Mohawk, or not dyed a hair color "that causes a disruption."

Tops for both sexes must cover shoulders, chest, backs and midriffs. Dresses for girls –and shorts for boys or girls -- should come down almost to the knees. No undergarments should be visible, but jeans with holes are OK as long as the holes are no higher than the lower thigh.

Although board members aren't allowed to speak during the public forum, the son of one trustee, Donovan Weldon II, did.

"I often get asked why Orangefield is so sought-after. 'Is it the property? Is it the housing?' To which I answer, it's the school district," Weldon said.

"While the teachers, principals and other faculty and staff make up a large portion of our success, I believe it is the conservative leadership of the board and administration that established OISD to be the only place to be."

Weldon decried "the slow process" of not holding people accountable for their actions that created "a society where right is wrong and vice versa."

Before urging the school board to "stick to your conservative morals and values and do not forget the silent majority in Orangefield supports you," Weldon complained about "Keyboard Warriors" who "speak their mind online" but fail "to speak at a meeting where it matters."

Weldon said his appearance at Monday's meeting was the result of an Oct. 8 Facebook thread in which Petty asked for support in her bid to change the board members' minds.

Response was about 50-50 between people saying change was good and those saying change was bad.

Dean Crooks, another Orangefield parent, said he garnered 101 favorable comments out of a total of 110 responses when he asked on Facebook if OISD fans would prefer the district to go back to accepting cash for sports tickets.

"The PAYK-12 app has no option to pay cash," he said of the phone app stakeholders were asked to download to purchase tickets with.

"A lot of people are upset about not being able to pay cash."

Crooks also pitched the school board to set up an advisory committee of parents who want to make sure the district stays on the right track.

Dave Rogers

Orangefield parent Ashley Petty, center, listens Monday night as Scott Rollins seconds her plea to the school board to allow boys to wear earrings to school.

"The mission statement for our board says, 'We selflessly serve our students while serving the community values,' Crooks said.

"How can you know what those are without getting input from the community?"

In other business Monday, the board certified the county's calculation that the 2021 tax roll for the district was $7.4 million and approved the purchase of 134 wifi clocks for the campuses at a cost of $30,503.

Superintendent Shaun McAlpin said the clock makeover has been needed since Hurricane Harvey.

McAlpin, a 1996 Orangefield High graduate, said he surveys teachers and administrators at the end of every spring term about issues raised by students concerning the dress code.

"During the summer, we review the list," McAlpin said. "If it's something in the dress code, we decide how best to address it."

 

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