The Clovis Unified school board could vote this week to tweak its decades-old dress code in response to concerns that it’s not gender-equal, but some parents are urging school officials to keep the strict policy in place, saying it’s tied to the district’s high student achievement.
The proposed changes, which trustees will vote on Wednesday, would drop the district’s rules forbidding long hair and earrings for boys and would strike language that miniskirts and dresses are only acceptable for girls. The proposal is an effort by the district to create a single policy regardless of a student’s gender.
But people like Debbie Neely – who said she will remove her son from the Clovis Unified school system if the recommendations are approved – worry that the new policy will lower the high-achieving district’s standards altogether.
“We put our kids in Clovis schools and pay very high taxes because we want to be separated from the other school districts,” Neely said. “If boys have long hair and girls’ shorts are too short, what traditions and values are you instilling in your kids? I guess I just see tradition here, and I say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The board shouldn’t open this can of worms.”
If boys have long hair and girls’ shorts are too short, what traditions and values are you instilling in your kids?
Debbie Neely, parent
The American Civil Liberties Union stepped in last year when the district was taken to court for denying a Native American student’s request to wear an eagle feather in his hair at graduation because it was against dress code. Parents also spoke out against the strictly enforced dress code earlier this month, saying it adds stress to students’ school day.
Kent Lubratich, whose son attends Buchanan High School, said trustees fear further legal action, and he believes if they vote in favor of relaxing the dress code policy, it will hurt the majority of students and diminish “the Clovis way of life.”
“We are a different community. It’s why people move here. If we’re going to let boys have long hair, let girls have short hair, let them do whatever they want to do, what have we done to a district that is one of the greatest districts in California if not the U.S.? And for the sake of what? Gender equality?” he said.
“Kids transfer from Fresno all the time because parents cannot control their children. They bring them to Clovis because they know the child is going to have to conform to the rules. Do you think these kids like it? No. But they conform and everybody’s happy about it.”
Lubratich said if changes are being made to support transgender students, then that should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
If you don’t like it, then don’t go to Clovis Unified.
Kelli Hormel, parent
“It’s not about wanting to be mean to a child that’s transgender. We will accommodate you and your family and your education. I guarantee Clovis Unified will do everything they can to make sure that happens for you,” he said. “But at what point does that hamper the education process of my child? Where are my civil liberties?”
Kelli Hormel, who has two children attending Clovis schools, said people can tell if a student is from Clovis based on appearances alone.
“You know when someone shouldn’t be here by the way they look. If you go onto Clovis Unified school grounds and look at the students, they’re all very kept and put together. If you go to Fresno or L.A., it’s very different,” she said.
“Let’s keep a tight rein on what we have. We’re a great district. Why change? If you don’t like it, then don’t go to Clovis Unified. Maybe that’s very black and white, but that’s my opinion.”
If you go
Clovis Unified school board will discuss modifying the district’s strict dress code.
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27
Where: Professional Development Building, Boardroom, 1680 David E. Cook Way, Clovis