By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY For 21st Century Media
OXFORD - There have been student surveys, but some parents and high school students don't feel they are being heard. Instead they took their complaints about the enforcement of the dress code and the prohibition on carrying backpacks between classes to the school board for the second time since the start of school.
'Was there a specific threat to the student body or the physical plant?' concerned parent Amy Carbonara asked the board at their Sept. 12 meeting.
Board president Jason Brady responded to the backpack issue with his own concerns about student safety. 'If something were to happen, and we were to look back, what would we say could have been done?' he said. He also pointed out the number of parents who have come to the board with worries over school security. 'We've had parents intears at that podium asking what are we doing about security.... we're taking the actions that the community asked for. At the current time that recommendation was made by the superintendent and we are upholding his recommendation as a board.'
Whether backpacks are really a threat to student safety is a point that the parents and students see as negligible compared to the problems it creates for those who find their arms overloaded with books as they try to get from one end of the high school to the other.
Steven Carbonara, a senior at the high school who brought his overloaded backpack to the board's last meeting to show them what he has to contend with. 'The issue has almost consumed me,' he said. 'I don't feel like our opinions are really getting through.'
Brady pointed out the results of the student survey that showed the average student is carrying four items between classes. 'It's not the stack (Carbonara displayed) and that is from the majority of the students,' he said. A
Another change being phased in this fall is the use of i-pads for students to cut down on papers and books. 'As we start to transition to the i-pads and things become more digital it's getting easier.'
The Carbonara family is not the only one pushing for a change. a petition signed by 91 parents was presented to the board along with multiple student petitions. Those also complained about the way the dress code is being enforced this year.
Samantha Longacre struggled with her emotions as she told the board how she assured her daughter her distressed jeans would be fine to wear to school, only to get a call from the school office telling her to bring her daughter a change of clothes because the jeans were unsuitable.
There may be room for change in the district's policies, but so far that has not happened. A parent forum on the implemented changes is scheduled for Sept 23.