MFL MarMac says no to crop top, cutoff shirts

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By Audrey Posten

 

There were few changes to the MFL MarMac student handbooks for the coming school year, but one of the most noticeable is a dress code update that will prohibit students from wearing crop top and cutoff shirts.

Middle school principal Denise Mueller proposed the rule—a move superintendent Dale Crozier suggested be applied to students at both the middle and high school levels.

This is just the latest in what Crozier described as a “style moving target.”

“A few years ago, we had a thing come through about bra straps. Over the years, we’ve had the short shorts era,” he said.

Mueller said the shirts can be distracting, both for others and the wearer. She’s already had a lot of students at the middle school trying to wear the tops.

“I’ve been watching kids all summer. They’re constantly adjusting. They are uncomfortable, it feels like. They are unsure how to wear it,” she explained. “If they’re uncomfortable, then people around them are uncomfortable.”

Crozier said it’s important to enforce a standard of decency, yet he understands fashion options might be limited at this time.

 “The problem is, you go to buy clothes right now, and it’s really the fad. From what I understand, if you’re a girl, 90 percent of the tops are tops that don’t go down all the way,” he shared. “If we do this, there’s going to be some high school girls the first week of school and some parents who are going to push back.”

“I’m sure it’s the fad,” Mueller responded, “but I think there are other things you could wear to school. If they want to wear it on the weekends, that’s their prerogative.”

Board member Joshua Grau agreed, stating, “I have four daughters, and I expect them to wear clothing to school that’s appropriate. I’m 100 percent for it across the board.”

School board president Gina Roys also stressed that girls aren’t being targeted.

“If you’re talking about showing skin with the girls, then the boys are the same way. No cutoffs where they can expose their sides way down to here,” she said. “It’s one thing baling hay in the summer, but not at school.”

Crozier said he’s spent considerable time reviewing the new first amendment interpretation of freedom of expression and freedom of speech that the Iowa legislature approved. 

“The standard is does it affect the educational process. If you can show it affects the educational process, then you can control the situation,” he said. “So that would be our justification for it.”

High school principal Larry Meyer acknowledged the rule will be pain for a bit. But with COVID-19 restrictions relaxed heading into the new year, he can once again bring students together for a first day of school meeting.

“We can let them know what’s going on and say this is how it’s going to be. It doesn’t need to be a problem,” he said.

Elementary addition project will go to bid

In other board news, Crozier proposed bidding out the elementary addition project in January. The work was originally part of the failed facilities bond referendum which also included a new fieldhouse at the Monona Center and miscellaneous improvements at the McGregor Center. Now, Crozier and the board have pushed to complete the elementary addition separately.

“Whether we do it or not, we’ll have to see what [the bids] are,” he said.

Additionally, Crozier is looking at science room upgrades, a new phone system and security updates.

“Since we’re not able to do the bond referendum, it just isn’t in the cards yet, we can keep chipping away at all these little things,” he said. “Sometime, in the middle of this year, I’ll also look at our unspent balance, not in the general fund but in other funds, and probably start paying down our debt. We only have like $1.2 million. It’s not a lot. We might be able to pay off all our debt and build the elementary addition and re-do the science rooms, and that should say something to our voters.”

Return to Learn 

plan discussed

Crozier told the board that, even with more of a return to normalcy this school year, MFL MarMac will still need to approve a Return to Learn plan to receive its ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds. 

“As of today, our Return to Learn plan is we’re starting school on time. We will have on-site instruction until or unless otherwise instructed by the state. There will be no mask requirement, nor will we recommend masks, unless directed otherwise by the state. If anyone chooses to wear a mask, they may,” he explained. “There will not be a virtual option. We will use a learning management system which will house primary school work as directed by the teacher. The systems will be Seesaw for grades PK-3 and Canvas for grades 4-12.”

Support for additional staff schooling

Crozier said he will now gather public and staff input and present the plan for approval at the August meeting. 

Crozier mentioned developing a board policy for situations when MFL MarMac cannot find in-demand staff like guidance counselors and special ed teachers, where the district would pay for credits for people to go back to college and get their endorsements. Additionally, he would like to offer a stipend for staff who pay for additional schooling so they can teach concurrent courses, which also provide students with college credit. 

“In both situations, it’s legit, because we need them and want them to do this,” Crozier said.

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