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Following the Dress Code Incident: The Administration’s Next Steps and Student Involvement

Following+the+dress+code+events%2C+Principal+Andy+Meeting+held+a+student+forum+to+answer+questions+and+start+the+discussion+on+student+involvement+in+policy
Following the dress code events, Principal Andy Meeting held a student forum to answer questions and start the discussion on student involvement in policy

Following the dress code events, Principal Andy Meeting held a student forum to answer questions and start the discussion on student involvement in policy

Zoe Cheung

Zoe Cheung

Following the dress code events, Principal Andy Meeting held a student forum to answer questions and start the discussion on student involvement in policy

Simone Vaillancourt, page editor

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When students protested the Edina High School dress code on Sept. 14, Principal Andy Beaton took a smattering of criticism from a collective group of students, parents, and local news outlets. Although his first few weeks as the new EHS principal likely proved to be more of a challenge than he anticipated, Beaton took the criticism in stride, and is now working with the district to make amends after the chaos.

The most relevant question at the moment is perhaps this: will the dress code be modified? The answer seems to be yes. “I can’t say what the final outcome will be, but I spoke with Stacy Geier, who does a lot of policy for the district. Policy 504 (the current dress code policy) is up for review,” Beaton said.

Geier is the human resources manager for the district; she will be helping Beaton organize a panel of middle school and high school students, parents, and staff who will weigh in on the dress code situation and work with the district to modify the current policy. Geier and Beaton are in the process of recruiting students to sit on the panel, however it is unclear when they will begin to reach out to parents and EHS staff. “The policy hasn’t been updated in a few years,” Geier said, “And it’s general practice for us to review and update policies. We’ll be looking at sample policies, as well as the old policy to see if we need to make any changes to Policy 504.” The panel will also include a School Board member, who will oversee the discussions and eventually present the updated policy to the Board.

The need to revisit the current dress code policy stems from conversations had between Beaton and several student leaders following the dress code protests. According to Beaton, it was collectively decided that the current dress code was not in alignment with present views. In the eyes of many students, the language was antiquated and targeted female students more so than male students. Beaton agreed. “We need to be thinking about how that language comes across,” he said.

In response to several students’ calls for a complete scrapping of the dress code, Beaton said that there would most likely never be a situation in which the school did not stay in line with community standards. “I’m not expecting business casual or formal dress,” Beaton said. “We want students to be comfortable, but at the same time, appropriate.” Beaton acknowledges that styles change and evolve over time, but that it is still important to keep in mind that everyone in the building follows guidelines regarding dress. “I was never interested in going to war with students over the dress code,” Beaton said. “That was never my intent.”

The dress code panel will likely mend some of the torn relationships between students and administration following the dress code events. Students on the panel will be able to voice their opinions regarding the policy, and will have a large say in what changes are made. Geier estimates that some of the specific language in the policy will be reviewed as per students’ request. The panel will most likely begin to meet in the next couple of weeks, their first step being to review the current policy and present a revised copy to the board, who will later discuss a motion for its passing.

“I guarantee that as things change at EHS, students will have questions about those changes,” Beaton said. “My hope would be that if students have concerns, that I may have the opportunity to talk with them about it. I learned some things from talking to students last week, and I want to hear about those things because the students have an important point of view to provide.” The panel, coupled with Beaton’s hope that students will come to him with any concerns, will make way for a strong student-staff relationship in the future.

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Following the Dress Code Incident: The Administration’s Next Steps and Student Involvement