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Orangeburg County School District employee clothing standards discussed; chair: ‘We need to dress for success’
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Orangeburg County School Board

Orangeburg County School District employee clothing standards discussed; chair: ‘We need to dress for success’

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Orangeburg County School District employees are expected to “maintain professional standards of dress and grooming,” according to a policy approved by school trustees Tuesday.

The dress code policy says staff members are to be guided by what is generally acceptable in the business and professional world and that all employees are to “serve as role models for students and should maintain professional standards of dress and grooming.”

But some trustees expressed concerns Tuesday that the policy is too vague and needs more clarification to ensure objectivity. The S.C. School Boards Association will present the board with some policies used elsewhere for the board to consider.

"It needs to be spelled out what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for school wear," board Chair Peggy James-Tyler said.

“We need to dress for success,” she said. If students have to abide by a dress code, district employees should be held up to the same standards.

"If we are going to be sending students home because dresses are too short, then teachers need to go home for dressing” the same, she said.

Under the policy, each school principal will be responsible for enforcing employee dress codes.

But trustee R.L. Brown expressed concerns about the matter being left up to the principals, noting some principals may believe wearing a shirt and tie with jeans is professional attire.

“This has always been pet peeve for me,” trustee Dr. Debora Brunson said. “I think the staff needs to look professional. I think jeans and sneakers are inappropriate for school and I think that leggings and those types of dress are inappropriate for schools and are not professional dress."

"It might pose a problem if we leave it up to solely to the principals to determine what is professional dress," Brunson continued.

The employee dress code policy does note that staff members should be appropriately dressed for their job responsibilities at all times while at work.

"Support staff and teachers in special areas will wear clothing appropriate for their instructional work environment," the policy states. "On special occasions such as field days, field trips, spirit days, etc. staff may be permitted to dress casually."

S.C. School Boards Association General Counsel and Director of Policy and Legal Services Dr. Tiffany Richardson said she will provide board members with a sample of other district employee dress policies to help trustees better formulate Orangeburg County's district policy.

In other matters:

• Individuals wanting to make public comments at school board meetings can continue signing up at the meetings rather than doing so days in advance. No employee names can be mentioned and proper protocol must be followed.

The board had previously considered requiring individuals to sign up five days before a meeting if they want to address the board.

However, trustees expressed concerns Tuesday that the five-day requirement would be too burdensome for the public.

“I think we ought to allow the constituents to come in and voice their opinion. We are allowing a reasonable time to respond to them if a response is required,” Brunson said.

“Once they understand the ramifications, people ought to have the right to come in and say what they need to say before the board and not submit the five days before a meeting,” Brunson said. “I don’t think the process should be highly intimidating for anyone who is coming before us."

• Over 230 elementary, middle and high school students were recognized for their achievements in the SCREADY (South Carolina College and Career Readiness Assessments), SCPASS (South Carolina Palmetto Assessment of State Standards), EOCE (End of Course Examination) and WIN Career Readiness Courseware and Credentials. The students all received high scores and placements in the tests for the 2018-2019 school year.

• The Orangeburg County School District Innovative Summit will be held Jan. 6 at Lake Marion High School. The summit is being held for employees as part of their professional development.

The summit will include a number of presenters including teachers, officials from the State Department of Education and software companies.

A variety of topics will be discussed, including classroom management, customer service, reading strategies, teacher re-certification, personalized learning, PowerSchool, math and U.S. History, to name a few.

• It was announced that winter break will be from Dec. 20 through Jan. 3. Students will have half a day Dec. 19. Faculty will return Jan. 6 and students will return Jan. 7.

• Trustees gave second and final reading to the district policies related to wellness, competitive food sales, staff leave and absences, staff vacation days and holidays and field trips.

• Trustee Mary Ulmer thanked the board for giving her the opportunity to serve on the Region 7 of the S.C. School Boards Association. Region 7 consists of Orangeburg, Calhoun and Sumter counties.

• Trustees went into executive session to discuss personnel issues. After an hour-long closed session, trustees unanimously approved hiring 15 individuals including instructional interventionists, teachers and a nurse.

• The next school board meeting will be held Jan. 14, 2020 at the Nix Elementary School Clyburn Center located at 770 Stilton Road. The meeting will be a workshop session and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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