Trustees: Students can wear tribal regalia at graduation

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In a first reading on proposed changes addressing 2023 legislative updates to graduation requirements, the Carson City School District discussed compliance with the bill granting students the right to wear traditional tribal regalia during school events and ceremonies such as graduation.

Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of education services, said CCSD always has remained in accordance with Assembly Bill 73, which was adopted last year and establishes that students in public schools are “entitled to wear traditional tribal regalia or recognized objects of religious or cultural significance as an adornment at school graduation ceremonies.”

The bill also provides that school boards, the governing body of a charter school or governing body of a university school for profoundly gifted students may prohibit items that are likely to cause disruption with a ceremony. Students can appeal a decision to the district’s superintendent, who must provide a decision within five days; otherwise, the appeal is deemed in favor of the student.

Fuson said for Carson City, adhering to its own policy in the past has not been a challenge, alluding to Carson High and Pioneer High schools’ ceremonies.

“But there have been other districts in the state with a much more restricted dress code for those ceremonies,” she said. “That’s why the bill was passed. In order to make sure we keep that at the front of our minds and in case principals want to change the dress code at those ceremonies, it’s important to add that into our policy.”

Trustee Richard Varner asked whether there is somewhere that specifically states what is recognized as cultural or religious regalia. Fuson responded a list does not exist, although AB73 defines “adornment” as “something attached to, or worn with, but not replacing, the cap and gown customarily worn at school graduation ceremonies.

“I don’t think (that list) has been tested,” Fuson told Varner. “I think that’s what’s going to play out in (law)suits as it comes to bear. What we do allow is for (students) to paint their caps. … We’ve been open and accepting what we consider acceptable adornments — leis, cords, those types of things, they adorn their outfits with, as long as they’re school appropriate.”

School officials will check for anything vulgar, Fuson said, and provide alternative hats if a student brings a hat to a ceremony that is inappropriate.

“So far, it’s been a positive thing for students,” she said. “It’s very rare that you have to say no.”

The item will return for a second reading at a future board meeting.


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