The St. Mary’s superintendent of schools announced Wednesday the system will look at its dress code policy to address items of clothing that depict the Confederate flag.
It was during a presentation led by Equity Coordinator Adriane Dillahunt, who gave an update on some of the equity initiatives in the school system since the educational equity policy passed in December.
Superintendent Scott Smith said they will be working on equity initiatives now starting with a dress code committee meeting “to talk about what needs to change within the dress code. Specifically, to take a look at the Confederate flag, the conversations that have been going on around that and how St. Mary’s public schools will appropriately have a dress code policy that reflects our system’s values.”
Smith told The Enterprise those conversations would start next week.
Depictions of the Confederate flag at school came into question nearly three years ago, at the request of the St. Mary’s NAACP, after hearing reports of racism at a high school football game. The organization wanted policies and regulations that enforce prohibiting the flag, neo-Nazi symbols and Ku Klux Klan symbols on school grounds.
The school’s handbook states clothing depicting profanity, sexual activity, drugs, violence, gang representation or tobacco are prohibited.
Other initiatives being addressed, Smith said, are reorganizing the division of instruction so available resources are addressing equity and a resolution that the three largest agencies in the county — the school system, county health department and sheriff’s office — will sign next Monday that states how important equity is in each organization.
“We have seen incredible protests and unrest and anger and the need for all of us to come together to help provide everything we need for our kids,” he said.
Though the educational equity policy was passed Dec. 11, Dillahunt said the work is ongoing. There are equity chats with schools and departments, current initiatives are being reviewed and long-range plans for support are being developed.
The site www.smcps.org/strategic-planning/raceequity gives a list of resources to help talk to students about race. And https://sites.google.com/view/smcps-equity-matters/home gives even more information.
“It’s also important that we’re investing in our teachers and our staff,” she said.
Professional development on equity is available to staff, which includes an equity book study series. It features books like “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo.
An equity task force report will be presented to the school board in August and will include implementing recommended practices.