The Jamestown School Board approved a new dress code policy that aims to promote diversity, prevent discrimination, and assure equity.
Chief Information Officer Jessie Joy said the Code of Conduct is reviewed annually as required by state law. She said the recently adopted policy on diversity, equity, and inclusion was the number one guiding principle that the committee kept in mind while reviewing the dress code in addition to the Crown Act of 2019, “It was recently established as an amendment to the ‘Dignity For All Students Act‘ that prohibits racial and cultural discrimination based on hair texture and protective hair styles. So, we also wanted to revisit our dress code to consider whether there was any language that would be in conflict with the Crown Act in our existing dress code.”
The committee that reviewed the dress code was comprised of stakeholders, including staff, teachers, parents, and students.
Joy said when it came to dress code referrals for the last five years, the percentage of referrals for females outweighed those for males, “But what’s more significant is when we compare that to the percentage of school enrollment that is female and male, we typically would expect our percentages for enrollment to be about 50% female, 50% male. But what you notice is that the percentage of referrals for females exceeds the proportion of our enrollment that is actually female. We call that disproportionality.”
She said when looking at patterns of referrals based on race or ethnicity, 40% of referrals were for those who are Hispanic, 42% for those who are white, 3% for those who are Black, and 15% for those who are two or more races. Joy said the percentage of enrollment is only 24% for Hispanics, “Referrals are disproportionately high for Hispanic students and lower than what we might expect for White students. So the committee had that in mind going into reviewing the dress code language to consider ‘is there any evidence in the language that might lead to that disproportionate outcome of referrals?'”
Joy said the new language of the dress code is general and clear, and that it establishes high standards and expectation of student dress, “That we’re free of bias, that we’re not so specific that we got locked into certain expectations, that ultimately lead to a clear understanding of the expectations for students dress, that are not leading to disproportion referrals as we expect.”
Joy said the committee will continue to monitor the implementation of the new dress code and recommend adjustments as needed. She said the committee has a goal of reviewing and updating the entire Code of Conduct by August 2023.