Sun Prairie Area School District logo (2018)

Action taken by administrative staff during the past two years in response to the Blackface incident in 2019 resulted in a new dress code policy for all Sun Prairie Area School District secondary schools being unveiled Monday, Feb. 8 — just in time for adherence when students return for hybrid instruction on Feb. 22.

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}Action taken by administrative staff during the past two years in response to the Blackface incident in 2019 resulted in a new dress code policy for all Sun Prairie Area School District secondary schools being unveiled Monday, Feb. 8 — just in time for adherence when students return for hybrid instruction on Feb. 22.{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}Chasidy Collins, president of Black Student Union and a Sun Prairie High School (SPHS) senior, said the student handbook changes began after the Black Face incident in which a student wore Blackface to a SPHS basketball game. After the incident was made public, students walked out of classes and to the district office.{span class=”Apple-converted-space”} {/span}{/span}

Cierra Sercye, another African American SPHS senior, said a group of three female students worked on upgrading the handbook, scheduling some inservice days and receiving feedback from staff and students at all secondary school buildings.

“The original was very racially insensitive — it had words in there like doo rags instead of scarves,” remarked Jilly, the third student who assisted with the handbook changes who also handles social media for the Black Student Union. She also said some parts of the dress code were enforced while others were not. “It was very conflicting with the district’s philosophy of ‘every child every day,’” she added.

Assistant SPHS Principal Chad Whalley said the new dress code also removes formerly listed, gender-specific examples of apparel.

For example, the existing handbook language states, “The neckline of all garments must not be low or revealing. The shoulder seam of the garment must be at least 2 inches wide and worn on the natural shoulder.( NO SPAGHETTI STRAPS) While standing, no skin may show at the waistline, front, or back.”

The new policy states, “Students refusing to change or cover inappropriate dress may face additional disciplinary consequences. Specific expectations include the following: 1. Any clothing or headgear with writings, pictures, or logos that in the opinion of school officials is vulgar, lewd, obscene, or promotes drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, racism, or gang activities is not acceptable during school hours or at school-sponsored activities, including arrival and dismissal times. 2. Clothing may not be see-through or revealing of genitalia and no undergarments may be visible at any time. Clothing must completely cover the chest, stomach, genitals, and buttocks. 3. Students must wear shoes at all times. 4. Sunglasses are not permitted to be worn inside the school building unless required for a documented medical reason. Costume masks are not permitted to be worn inside the school building or at school activities. 5. Blankets may not be worn at school.”

The new policy also spells out that young adults should take pride in their appearance, but that the district administration and faculty “respect individual expression through dress.”

“The district has established a dress code in order to maintain health, safety, and emotional well-being, and support a positive educational environment,” the new dress code language states. “Dressing in accordance with this dress code is the responsibility of the student and his/her parents or legal guardians.”

The new policy also states clothing guidelines and expectations for special school occasions such as homecoming week, will be communicated by school administration. In addition, the new policy allows clothing or accessories that are directly related to a student’s sincerely-held religious belief or observance.

“In the event that a student’s choice of dress is deemed to be out of compliance,” the new policy reads, “every effort will be made to remediate the situation at a time that is least disruptive to learning. Remediation may include asking the student to change clothing, contacting the parent or legal guardian, and/or providing clothing to gain compliance with these guidelines.”

After Sun Prairie School Board members thanked the trio for its work to update the dress code language, former teacher and current board member Carol Albright made an observation: “I’m glad to see this is re-written, because there were parts of it that were not enforceable.”

Nick Reichhoff, Director of Student Policy & School Operations, said the policy will also be updating its discriminatory practices language to closely mirror bullying language. Both discrimination and bullying are prohibited in schools or at any school-sponsored activities.

Because the report was an update for the board’s information, Reichhoff said no action was needed by the Sun Prairie School Board, but that dress code changes will be in place when students return to school Feb. 22.

No action taken on 164 Kroncke Drive

The Sun Prairie School Board met briefly during a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Feb. 8 regarding the possible purchase of 164 Kroncke Drive, but emerged from closed session without a recommendation.

The property is located in the middle of the 100 block of Kroncke Drive and abuts the district’s old office space used by the Dane County Head Start at 509 Commercial Ave.

The district administration had recommended proceeding with the purchase and holding a special electors meeting Feb. 22, but that now remains in limbo.

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