The Discussions

September 15, 2017


Zoe Cheung

Following the dress code events, Principal Andy Meeting held a student forum to answer questions and start the discussion on student involvement in policy

As the forum started, the room was on edge. Students wanted answers and administration wanted to mend the divide.  “This is not how I want to get to know the students of Edina High School,” said Beaton. One of the first issues on the table was the fact that, while he’d greeted freshmen and sophomores on the first day of school, upperclassmen had yet to meet their new principal. Beaton regarded this as a simple difference in leadership styles. Upperclassmen at EHS will remember that Dr. Bruce Locklear, the previous principal, often held assemblies in order to disseminate information throughout the school. Beaton prefers to be more hands-on. “I really don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time,” he said when asked about holding a class-meeting assembly. His style is to be out-and-about in his school, taking a direct and involved approach. In light of recent events, he may consider addressing the upperclassmen as a group.

Of course, the elephant in the room was the dress code policy. As the new principal of EHS, “dress code was not a big, high-priority issue for me,” said Beaton. To clarify, the new administration has made no attempts to alter any existing policies, and the dress code hasn’t changed since last year. The dress code is a district policy, and the Edina School Board is the organization in charge of altering it. The policy is now under review, and student involvement in constructing a new policy was brought up at the forum as a real possibility.

Despite that, students at the forum wanted to get to the bottom of what had transpired during the first week and a half of school. According to administration, there is no standing mandate for school faculty and staff to go out of their way to code students. Dress code issues are addressed for particularly egregious instances only. During the meeting, it was mentioned by various members of the administration team that they typically make a handful of dress-codes a year. Assistant Principal Johnson said that her codes are roughly split between boys and girls, and that all issues are handled as discreetly as possible. It’s never the intention of administration to purposefully embarrass a student for their outfit. Since the beginning of the school year, only two students have been dress-coded. Nobody was suspended or removed from class over a dress code issue. During the protests on September 14, Beaton instructed his staff to “let it go” instead of coding students who had intentionally violated the policy. Contrary to popular belief, the new administration is not making a crusade of the dress code. “My job is to support students,” said Beaton. “In general, I thought that students address dress appropriately here.” It’s possible that with the new administration already implementing many changes–some that had been designed before they took over–Beaton and his team were scapegoated. The dress coding of students at EHS is something that has happened in past years, and is not unique to the new administration. Many students were under the impression that the dress code had just been changed, when this wasn’t actually the case. “Students might be confused–what is changing and what isn’t?” said Kratz.

Regarding calls among students for a more specific dress code, administration was uneasy. The common viewpoint was that creating more rules creates a need to enforce them more strictly. The administration team, charged with running the school, is a busy group. “I don’t want to spend a lot of time enforcing dress code rules,” said Pretasky. However, when an issue does arise, administration wants to be able to deal with it effectively. “Are we not supposed to follow district policy? If something stands out as significant, I want to be able to feel like we can address it in a respectful way,” said Beaton.

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