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School district code of conduct changes to be addressed

By Staff | Jun 21, 2010

The Lee County School Board is voting Tuesday to change some language in the school district’s code of conduct.
One significant change to the district’s current rulebook will be the banning of pants with holes and wearing pants in a way that exposes undergarments.
Although the district has a rule stating, “pants shall be worn fastened at the waist,” Director of Communications Joe Donzelli said some students are finding ways around the regulations, and therefore the district had to update its own language.
“It’s basically clarifying some existing language, unfortunately we have kids out there who like to try and push the envelope,” said Donzelli. “Even with what we had, it has allowed students to do something which caused a disruption.”
Administrators across the district have been dealing with students wearing pants with holes in exposing areas, he said, and having their pants fastened at the waist, but pulling their undergarments over the waist line.
The district will also continue to ban piercings, but is trying to add new language on the safety and potential for injuries when students have piercings. Students are allowed to wear shirts with hoods, but they can’t have the hood over their head during the school day.
Another significant revision to the code of conduct involves electronic devices. The number of enrolled student with multiple devices, such as cell phones or mp3 players, is growing exponentially, and the district is redesigning its rulebook to meet this growing phenomenon.
Under the proposed revisions, students would be allowed to listen to mp3 players or use their cell phones while on the bus, said Donzelli. He added that there is nothing the district can do if a student loses a device or has one stolen, and therefore parents should make sure their children keep it at home.
The district is also adding “sexting” as a punishable infraction. This is the act of students sending pornographic pictures of themselves or others to classmates. Those found sexting are being punished, but now the infraction is explicit in the code of conduct.
Donzelli said the sexting provision is an enhancement of the district’s anti-bullying policy, which was reworked in 2008 after the passage of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act, named after the Cape Coral teen who committed suicide as the result of unrelenting acts of bullying.
According to the state’s School Environmental Safety Incident Report, Lee County reported 69 sexual-related offenses and 166 acts of sexual harassment in 2006-2007. Of course, not all of these are specific acts of sexting.
Students will also be punished for taking out their cell phones and making unauthorized recordings during the school day.
Policies related to text messages, involving bullying or sexting, are being adopted by schools nationwide. In January, a 15-year-old Irish immigrant named Phoebe Prince committed suicide after weeks of online bullying and texts from fellow students. And in March 2009, an Ohio teen named Jessica Logan committed suicide after her ex-boyfriend sent nude photographs of her around the school.
Every year the district makes changes to its code of conduct, said Donzelli. The school board will be briefed on the changes Tuesday night, and won’t be voting on the issue until the July 29 meeting.
For additional information, visit www.leeschools.net.