Some schools want to opt out of SSA policy

Monday, April 27, 2009 at 2:53pm

Without knowing which, or how many, Metro Schools across the city have applied to opt out of Standard School Attire (SSA) policies set by the district two years ago.

District officials say parents should know the official decisions soon.

Although schools in the district have made their requests, rules about Metro Schools’ controversial ‘dress code’ for next year aren’t final and need approval of the director.

Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent for student affairs for Metro Nashville Public Schools, said final approval of next year’s SSA policies for individual schools must pass through Director of Schools Jesse Register’s office.

Elementary schools district-wide have asked, for the most part, for common SSA rules, so that SSA policies won’t vary much between elementary schools. The schools have asked to continue using current SSA guidelines, but with exceptions including the addition of more colors of shirts.

Most district middle schools have asked to maintain SSA, with the exception of more colors of shirts. One or two schools want to allow a variation in shirt style that would allow, for example, sweatshirts with the school’s logo, Thompson said.

As for high schools, three schools have asked to opt out completely, Thompson said, though the district isn’t confirming which schools until final decisions have been approved. District officials have said the history of SSA adoption indicates that Nashville School of the Arts and the academic magnet schools, as well as Hillsboro Comprehensive, may have interest in opting out.

Schools that opt out may revert to some form of the district’s old, pre-SSA dress code policy.

“We are looking to reinstate the former dress code policy with maybe a few changes for any school that might receive or be granted opt-out,” Thompson said.

Though a few high schools have asked to opt out of SSA entirely, most Metro high schools have asked to continue using “some form” of SSA, Thompson said. Exceptions requested by district high schools are a little more extensive than those asked of elementary and middle schools, Thompson said, with some schools asking that tucked-in button-down shirts be deemed acceptable.

The original motion passed by the Board of Education enacted SSA for three years, with the stipulation that an opt-out policy for individual schools be enacted after two years. That two-year mark will be reached at the beginning of the upcoming school year.

Thompson said last month that MNPS wanted principals to involve parents, students and community leaders in opt-out decisions. If school principals chose to opt out and indicated that enough school stakeholders had been consulted, Thompson said the requests would most likely have been approved.

For more information about the SSA policy, click here.


5 Comments on this post:

By: MathGeek on 4/27/09 at 9:41

Why keep quiet about which schools have asked for permission to opt out? Don't understand that one at all.

By: Fundit on 4/28/09 at 6:31

Seventh paragraph: N'ville School of the Art, Hillsboro, and the magnets.

No big surprise there.

By: leagle on 4/28/09 at 10:47

At least a few reasons, MG: If RT is precise that only 3 principals are opting out, a few have been "convinced" not to, despite the wishes of their parents. 2nd, lots of the folks who are pro-uniform are in favor of inflicting it on other-people's kids, and MNPS doesn't want to reflair the animosity that the initial debate sparked. 3rd, many, many schools did not appropriately survey their parents--as they were asked to do--and naming the schools that are opting out will expose those who failed to do their surveys (NB: the schools were asked to do the survey on the Thursday before Spring break, and to report back by Monday of Spring break)

By: MathGeek on 4/28/09 at 8:56

@Fundit- That paragraph does not say those schools voted to opt out, it says past history indicates they MAY be the ones that requested to opt out ("District officials have said the history of SSA adoption indicates that Nashville School of the Arts and the academic magnet schools, as well as Hillsboro Comprehensive, may have interest in opting out.")

@leagle- Interesting theories. So, from your first point, if I am understanding it correctly, if a school's principal is asking to opt out are you saying that means the principal didn't ask the parents? Are you saying it is your belief that most of the parents want SSA? Just asking for clarification, not confronting.

By: leagle on 5/2/09 at 1:28

No, MG, the other way around--those who ARE opting out asked the parents (we know know that factually for at lest two opte-out schools, HFA and MLK. Other schools, that are not opting out, did not ask their parents.