Back in July I posted a few lines about the roles of school boards in Delaware, but lately I’ve still heard folks not understanding who is responsible for what in the decisions surrounding schools, in particularly, the direction and dress code of our schools. First, if I look at boards of education by definition in Title 14 their authority is:
§ 1043. Authority.
In each reorganized school district there shall be a school board which shall have the authority to administer and to supervise the free public schools of the reorganized school district and which shall have the authority to determine policy and adopt rules and regulations for the general administration and supervision of the free public schools of the reorganized school district. Such administration, supervision and policy shall be conducted and formulated in accordance with Delaware law and the policies, rules and regulations of the State.
Bottomline its the board of education who sets policy and rules within a school district, and they hire a Chief School Officer or superintendent to oversee day to day operations while inforcing policies set by the board. However, in the case of the recent discussions with regard to dress code folks can throw blame a little farther, say state Legislators in Dover. I have copied the legislation that boards will use to install dress codes in schools without having to seek input.
HOUSE BILL NO. 176
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION.
WHEREAS, our State’s schools should be safe, disciplined environments conducive to learning; and
WHEREAS, the education of our State’s students should occur in an atmosphere free from as many distractions as possible; and
WHEREAS, among such distractions can be a student’s clothing itself; and
WHEREAS, peer pressure causes students to ask their parents to spend large sums of money to ensure that they can wear designer clothes to school on a regular basis; and
WHEREAS, students have, regrettably, used particular articles of clothing on occasion to identify themselves as members of certain “gangs”, to the detriment of discipline and safety at their schools; and
WHEREAS, the State’s schools have experienced other disruptions as a result of the types of clothing worn by students; and
WHEREAS, uniformity and orderliness of dress can contribute to an orderly, disciplined school environment and conceal income disparities among students; and
WHEREAS, local boards of education are in the best position to determine the appropriateness of adopting school dress codes and authorizing schools to require students to a wear uniforms; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly believes it desirable to provide local school boards with clear legal authority to adopt dress code and school uniform policies;
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 41, Title 14, Delaware Code, by adding thereto a new section to read as follows:
“§ 4120. School dress codes and uniforms.
(a) The school board of each public school district shall have authority to establish and enforce a dress code program, which may include school uniforms, for students within the district to promote an orderly, disciplined school environment and to encourage uniformity of student dress. Any school board exercising its authority under this section shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the establishment and enforcement of its dress code program.
(b) In establishing a dress code that adopts school uniforms, the rules and regulations of the school board shall ensure that any uniform required is available at an affordable price, and shall include provision to assist economically disadvantaged students in obtaining school uniforms”.
Section 2. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.
Approved June 23, 1995
There is one course of action if a group wishes to challenge a board on a decision and that also appears in Title 14:
§ 1058. Controversies concerning rules and regulations of the school board.
The school board of each reorganized school district shall decide on all controversies involving the rules and regulations of the school board. Any party to such controversy may appeal to the State Board of Education by setting forth such grievance in a petition which shall be served within 30 days after receiving notice of the decision upon the Secretary of Education. The State Board, shall by rules and regulations provide for adequate procedures for the hearing of any such petitions and shall decide the controversy. The State Board shall overturn the decision of a local board only if it decides, after considering the advice of the Secretary, that the local board’s decision was contrary to a specific state or federal law or regulation, was not supported by substantial evidence, or was arbitrary or capricious. The decision of the State Board shall be final.
The only other way to send a guidance message to a board is just what many around the state have done, and that is get the public to vote out those board members who have forgotten who they represent in their decisions!