Brooke schools eye staff dress code

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Board of Education on Wednesday discussed proposed policies restricting cell phone use at Brooke High School and setting a dress code for staff.

Among issues discussed at the work meeting was a proposed further restriction on cell phone use at the high school. Currently pupils at the middle and primary schools may not use cell phones except before and after school, but the high school students may use them between classes and at lunch at the principal’s discretion.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson said if the policy was approved, the high school students also would be prohibited from using cell phones during the school day and would be required to store them in their lockers until they leave school.

She said exceptions would be made for classes in which students use web-based applications for their class work, but their teachers must note that use in their lesson plans.

Kidder-Wilkerson said the policy establishes penalties for non-compliance ranging from temporary confiscation of the phones to external suspension, depending on the number of violations.

The board is expected to consider the change in August.

Complaints from staff and parents that cell phones have created a distraction in classrooms led to the board adopting its cell phone policy early last year.

Kidder-Wilkerson said since then a majority of staff in Brooke High School’s faculty senate voted to recommend restricting the phones.

She added distractions by cell phone use, including texting, was the most frequent complaint among parents who participated in a special day at the high school where they attend school in place of their children.

Recently the board heard from Larry Jones, a welding instructor at the school, who expressed concern about safety hazards presented by the phones. Jones said even when phones are put on “vibrate,” it can be startling to students using equipment, and cell phones normally are prohibited in workplaces for such reasons.

Kidder-Wilkerson said if approved, the proposed dress code policy for staff wouldn’t dictate what they should wear but would prohibit certain clothing and shoes.

She cited as examples, beach-style flip flops wouldn’t be permitted for reasons of safety; tops must cover the full torso, with straps no less than 3 inches wide and dresses shouldn’t extend more than 3 inches above the knees.

“We didn’t put in anything for our staff that isn’t already true for our students,” Kidder-Wilkerson said.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said nearly all of the school district’s staff wears appropriate attire and he doesn’t expect the new code to be an issue if adopted.

Kidder-Wilkerson agreed, saying, “I don’t think we’ll have any problems. We have a very professional staff.”

She said the policy is being considered because the school district has hired a large number of new staff in recent years.

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