The Bay-Waveland School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday heard from several parents about the district's dress code policy, specifically as it relates to jackets.
In a Nov. 12 Facebook post, the district stated, "During cold weather, students are allowed to wear jackets of any kind outside of the building that do not have hoods on them. Inside of the building, solid navy, and royal sweatshirts and 1/4 zips are allowed. Hoods are never allowed to be worn on campus."
One parent said on Wednesday that one issue she took with the coat policy is that "it's freezing cold outside and all the heavy jackets have hoods on them."
"I dropped my daughter off at school this morning and every single teacher in the car rider line had hoods on their jackets or beanies on their head and my kid can't have one," she said. "My seven-year-old daughter was crying this morning because she doesn't want to worry about getting in the car to go to school and getting in trouble for her jacket."
School Board President Casey Favre said that "we've said you can't wear a hood in the building, but we've not told a single child that you cannot show up at school with a jacket."
Parents also told the board that at the beginning of the school year, they purchased sweatshirts with Waveland Elementary's logo on the front and back.
Parents said that they were told that students are now "not allowed to wear them to school" because of the logo on the back, and that the shirts would have to "be worn inside out," or "do not wear it."
Parents told the board they purchased them from the PTO.
A parent said her child, who attends North Bay Elementary, was told to remove her black long-sleeved shirt, which she wore under a school-approved shirt.
Another parent said his son wore a "navy blue undershirt under his navy blue three-button shirt that he's supposed to wear and she had him take the undershirt off because it's long-sleeved and you can't wear that, even though it's still the colors and he still had his uniform on."
Another parent said that even though students are allowed to wear jackets, they must find somewhere to store them because they "cannot go in the classroom."
"My child has lost sweaters because there's no locker and their back bags are overstuffed so they can't put their jacket in their back bag, it's a problem," another parent stated.
Another parent told the board that her child has an autoimmune disorder.
"She has temperature regulation issues and in order for her to wear a coat in between classes, she now has to get a doctor's excuse," she said. "Which is going to now put a stigma on my child, which she already faces. She already faces challenges now, everybody's going to know the kids that have medical issues are going to stand out because they get their doctor's note to be able to wear a coat."
In between classes the high school students go outside, she added.
BWSD Superintendent Dr. Sandra Reed addressed the parents.
Reed said that she thinks that "our track record here shows that we genuinely try to do what's in the best interests of students."
"Do we sometimes make mistakes and make calls that ultimately work out not in the way they were intended?," she said. "Of course we do."
Reed also said that the district and parents are all "reasonable people" with the "best interests of students at heart."
"I think we need to agree to step back, take a look at the policy, take a look at the intention of the policy, see what parts of the policy are working well and what parts are not working well and make some adjustments," Reed said. "Nobody goes into the business of educating students to see how uncomfortable and how much we can inconvenience parents and our students."
Reed said she would like to take a week and look at the adjustments made to the policy and make further recommendations about modifications.
Reed said there are some "safety concerns," with regards to clothing.
"You go home and Google YouTube and look at some videos of students that have on jackets that are zipped up," she said. "I'm not talking about trench coats, I'm talking about jackets. And then they start pulling weapons out. There's one out there where a child pulls 42 weapons out of a jacket that if you would have passed him in the hall, you would have sworn he didn't have a single thing in there. So it's a very difficult task to balance all these concerns. So, I'm going to ask you to trust us. We've heard what you said. Let's take a look at it and see if we can't arrive at a spot that we all feel is best for kids."