The Liberty County school board Tuesday approved a finalization of the uniform dress code policy allowing jewelry in piercings in ear lobes only.
Questions arose about the next sentence of the policy: “Tattoos and other body piercings are not permitted to be visible at school.”
Chairman Lily Baker pointed out that would mean students with tattoos on their legs would not be allowed to wear shorts.
Frank Long Elementary Principal Scott Carrier, a uniform proponent who made the presentation, said, “Administrators are just going to have to have a lot of leeway in dress code matters.”
He noted a student with a tattoo on his or her neck would have to wear a collared shirt to try to cover it up during school, but there would be cases when tattoos could not be concealed.
The policy, as adopted, also rules out nose rings, nose pins, tongue rings, tongue pins and any other jewelry to accessorize the face or body.
Parent Deborah James said she had experience with school uniforms and is opposed them.
“They do not perform as advertised,” she said, referring to the claimed discipline and safety benefits of uniforms, “and they harm the child’s individuality.
“You can buy uniforms cheaply at some places, but they are not well made and they do not last. It really costs parents more.”
James said when uniforms were not required parents were able to shop for bargains and purchase good quality clothes at reasonable prices. She said she had moved to Liberty County this year from a school system where uniforms were mandatory.
The board heard from several students, some tearful, and several parents, some of them emotional, who object to the system’s longstanding policy of allowing only students who have completed all requirements for graduation to participate in graduation ceremonies.
Students who failed tests by only a few points, whose requests for variances were received slightly late or who did not receive or understand information — or who cited a variety of similar reasons — told the board they should be allowed to walk at graduation even if they could not receive a diploma.
The board showed no interest in changing the graduation policy, but listened to each request. The board’s policy is not to reply to audience participation, but Assistant Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley, in the absence of Superintendent Dr. Steve Wilmoth, did explain some aspects of graduation rules.
All who commented were asked to leave their telephone numbers; Baker said Wilmoth would be in touch with each of them.
Baker intervened when a parent said she felt a school official had lied to her.
“Who lied to you? Why do you say that?” the chairman said.
“Well, not lied exactly,” the parent said before noting she had not received a complete explanation.
In other business
• The board adopted a proposed 2008 budget of $95.5 million in revenue that will be advertised for two weeks before it can be officially approved.
• The board hopes to meet on May 17 with its architects to discuss construction projects and has scheduled a work session starting at 9 a.m. May 22. Board meetings are open to the public.
• The public has been taking advantage of the board’s openness, particularly at the beginning of the meetings when student accomplishments are recognized, certificates presented and photographs taken.
There were so many students, parents, teachers and other well-wishers that the crowd filled the board room, the hallways outside and adjoining the board room, and the outdoor areas around the board building.
The crowd was so great that several school executives were unable to make their way into the boardroom until after the business session started.
Most people left, however, before the regular meeting got under way.
The board started its session with a bare quorum of Baker, Marcia Anderson, Harold Woods and Charlie Frasier in attendance.
District 1 Member Mattie Hicks arrived about halfway through the meeting, and Vice Chair Carol Guyett and member Becky Carter did not attend.