Students address dress code policy with BOE

By Brittany Hively - [email protected]

POINT PLEASANT — Students spoke to the Mason County Board of Education members this week, requesting a waiver to allow hats for the remainder of the school year.

Board members present for the regular meeting were Ashley Cossin, Jared Billings, Meagan Bonecutter, Rhonda Tennat and Dale Shobe.

During delegations, Emma Harbour, senior student council president with the support of Kayla Butler, senior student council secretary spoke to the board about the policy that keeps students and staff from wearing hats at school.

“The thing I’m here to talk about today is the dressing/grooming policy, mainly on the topic of hats,” Harbour said.

Harbour said students have asked her why there was a hat policy and she said she had no answer.

“The policy itself is causing problems,” Harbour said. “It’s disrupting learning and it’s taking away from valuable instructional time. Teachers are focused on telling kids take off your hat when we really need to be focusing on learning, because that is what school is about.”

Harbour said the policy is outdated.

“The policy itself is no longer functional as written,” Harbour said. “The issue isn’t really a matter of respect anymore. Many businesses, organizations and different facilities allow the wearing of hats to take place inside.”

Harbour said not allowing hats takes away individualism, freedom of expression and the opportunity to represent.

“Various organizations and groups in the high school as well as in the vocational school, which is connected to the high school, wear hats,” Harbour said. “Organizations are represented through their hats. For example, welders have their own hats to show their accomplishments and what they’re a part of, it’s no different than wearing a varsity jacket.”

Habour continued: “With all of this in mind, I want to respectfully request on behalf of the body of Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School that the dress code policy, policy number 5511, be revised to allow the wearing of hats in public facilities.”

William Cottrill, principal at PPJ/SHS, attended the meeting in support of his students.

“I’m on board,” Cottrill said. “My belief may be a little bit different on some of the aspects with this, however, the student body, the student council has done what is right.”

Cottrill agreed that hats cause disruptions throughout the day.

“My thing was if you don’t like this policy, and you go to your student council and let them take it up and they did exactly that,” Cottrill said. “They took it up, they voted on it, they brought it to a leadership team, out leadership team looked at it and they support it. And they moved it on right back to the senate. Our faculty senate unanimously said, ‘we support this.’”

Cottrill said, “it’s a different time, it’s a different culture with kids at this point.”

Later the dress code policy was pulled by Cossin.

Cossin said she was “fully support” of the policy change, asking if the other high schools had voiced opinion.

The policy change request is actually a waiver request that would allow PPJ/SHS to wear hats until the end of the year and then it can be brought back for further review. Other high schools are able to request the change.

Bonecutter asked about other things on the policy such as scarves, toboggans etc or if this would be specific to ball caps.

Billings applauded the students approach to this issue.

“Mr. Cottrill, the process your students took, that’s what I like to see,” Billings said. “That is impressive to me when they come up here and stand in front of us. That’s what leaders do and I like that process.”

Billings said he did not see a problem with the waiver and supported it.

Cossin made a motion to approve the waiver effective the next day with a second from Tennant. the policy was approved 5-0.

© 2022, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

By Brittany Hively

[email protected]

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.