The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to update its school dress code policy to better reflect student diversity and individualism.
The board’s Office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity will work on a revised dress code, with input from students, and make recommendations for implementation in January 2020.
Student Board Member Tyler Okeke authored the resolution, which was approved during his final meeting.
“I ran for the board on the issues of civic agency and for putting an end to discriminatory dress code policies,” he said. “I am happy that on my last day serving as the student board member, I have secured a future for my peers that is safe from discriminatory dress code policies and their punitive enforcement. Dress code policies should affirm all identities and allow students to express themselves free from over-sexualization, humiliation, and reproach.”
Board Member Jackie Goldberg said, “The dress code needs to address the diversity in our student enrollment, and reflect how times change.”
The board also voted unanimously Tuesday to institute policies aimed at creating more supportive school environments for LGBTQ students. The resolution, authored by Board Member Kelly Gonez, calls for updating the all-gender restroom policy and expanding access to all-gender restrooms when modernizing school facilities.
Also Tuesday, a resolution was approved to end random searches of students using hand-held metal detectors.
The “Successful School Climate: Safe, Respectful, and Learning for All!” resolution calls for the district to identify alternative means of ensuring school safety without the uses of individual searches, which board members said disrupt learning time and dehumanize students.
The resolution will halt the random searches by July 1, 2020. It does not prohibit searches for which there is reasonable suspicion a school rule or law has been violated, but prevents the district from implementing other random searches or increasing law enforcement on school campuses, according to Joshua Busch of Public Counsel, which bills itself as the nation’s largest pro bono law firm.
With passage of the resolution, Superintendent Austin Beutner is expected to develop an alternative plan for school safety that eliminates the use of random searches by July 2020.
“It is our duty to represent the voices of our students and I am proud to stand with our youth who are calling on us to be braver and bolder when it comes to ensuring that our students are feeling safe and well in schools,” board President Monica Garcia said.
Board members George J. McKenna III and Scott M. Schmerelson voted against the resolution.
“We have not done an extensive enough analysis of the pilot program to come to the conclusion that it is not effective,” McKenna said. “I would like to see the pilot program fully implemented and evaluated before making a firm decision on suspending the random search practice without offering a viable alternative.”
Schmerelson said “a fair, nondiscriminatory, and respectful wanding program provides increased safety for students and staff. It may not be the perfect tool, but until a reasonable and effective alternative is proposed, I sincerely believe that random wanding serves as a deterrent for students who may consider bringing a weapon to school.”
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