Carson High School officials are considering a standard dress code — similar to those being enforced at other schools in the district — for students next year, and are hosting two public workshops to gauge community interest.
“We want to answer any questions and go over the procedure,” said Mark Rodina, dean of students. “This is a big deal. It will affect every single student.”
But junior Rebecca Matley says it’s the students who are being left out of the process and took her concerns to Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“Without a doubt, the administration has taken offensive steps to ensure that the general student body is not involved in the uniform decision-making process,” she said in an email after the meeting. “The students at Carson High feel that their voice is so stifled that speaking out against the educational authorities would get them into disciplinary trouble.”
She said Principal Ron Beck told her students were not permitted to attend the two public meetings, both at 6 p.m. Tuesday and March 27 in Senator Square.
Beck was out of town this week and unable to comment. However, Rodina said students, their parents and all community members were welcome at the meetings.
“I like it when kids express themselves,” Rodina said. “To me, it’s all about them. As long as they are not breaking any school rules, there’s no disciplinary action.”
Although commonly referred to as school uniforms, Rodina said it would be a standard student attire, similar to the middle and elementary schools in the district. Rather than one uniform, students are given a choice of a certain colors of pants and polo shirts.
Rodina said it has not yet been decided what those choices would be.
“Once it is determined we’re going to go in that direction, there is a committee that has already been formed that will decide what it will look like,” Rodina said.
Matley, who is circulating a petition among her peers to protest the move and started a page on Facebook to collect support, said she attended a meeting of that committee. She shared with them a survey of more than 135 students where more than 80 percent said they were against the standard attire.
It opposed the survey Beck took of the 65 members of student government, where the majority were in favor.
“They just shut me down,” she said. “It’s been really shady, the entire operation.”
Rodina said a survey of teachers showed they were in favor of the standard student attire by a small margin.
While the strict attire may alleviate some of the dress code concerns at the school, he said, the principle motivation for it is safety.
“Our main focus is we want to keep the kids safe at school,” Rodina said. “We have such a large building, it would help us identify more easily people on campus who aren’t students. This isn’t a perfect answer, but it would help.”
Rodina said he expects it will be a hot debate on both sides.
“There’s just as many pros to it as there are cons,” he said. “You can argue both sides.”
The decision will need to be made fairly quickly, however, as the district is required to notify parents by the end of May if there will be a required standard attire.
“Depending on which direction it goes, there’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Matley said she will continue her opposition against the proposal.
Rodina said they want to hear from as many voices as possible before making the final call.
“Every stakeholder involved is important,” he said. “I do think it’s going to be a close call either way.”