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School board to revisit monogramming in dress code policy

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By Sharieka Botex
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Pitt County Board of Education is thinking about tailoring the new dress code after one parent expressed concerns at its Monday meeting about a change in policy that no longer permits monogramming.

The board voted on June 5 to alter the district’s uniform and appearance policy, with the changes set to take effect Aug. 28.

During the public comments portion of the board’s Monday meeting, parent Sherry Johnson expressed her dismay about the policy no longer allowing two- or three-inch monograms on uniform shirts, pants and outerwear worn by students. Johnson is the parent of a rising fourth grader at Chicod School.

“Monogramming has been allowed on student uniforms and outerwear at Chicod for the last four years,” Johnson told board members. “Before the change in policy, monogramming was acceptable and caused no issue at Chicod.”

Johnson said she purchased her child’s uniform shirts last year a little bigger to allow for two year’s worth of wear. All were monogrammed, as was allowed at that time, she said.

“On June 5th, the policy was rushed to be changed to allowing any solid color of collared shirt, spirit wear, blue jeans, leggings, yoga pants,” Johnson said. “At that time, there was no specific mention of monogramming or brand name shirts.”

A month later, on July 5, Johnson contacted Mike Pollard, principal of Chicod School, to inquire as to whether students would still be permitted to wear monogrammed clothing.

“On July 6, I received an email reply, informing me that Mr. Pollard was going to allow monogramming,” Johnson said. “I planned to do last year’s shirts and I also purchased and monogrammed several of the new approved shirts for the upcoming year.”

But on July 17, Johnson was informed by email that monogramming would no longer be permitted, she said, adding that she was not provided a reason for the change.

“Also on July 17, I began requesting information through the Pitt County School system’s Facebook page, asking why monogramming was now prohibited,” Johnson said. “On July 18, another revision to the policy was published on the county website, specifically prohibiting monogramming but allowing brand name shirts to be worn.  Also on that day, I was blocked from the Facebook page and not allowed to communicate any further. On July 19, I was unblocked after having a third party ask for clarification of the policy on my behalf.” 

Travis Lewis, spokesman for Pitt County Schools, on Tuesday told The Daily Reflector that Johnson was blocked accidentally during a review of her response to a Facebook post by the district. The post was notifying parents of the new dress code and where to find more information.

“Once this was brought to our attention the next day, the error was corrected and an apology sent to Ms. Johnson,” Lewis said.

Johnson said she still has not received clarification on the change in policy. On Monday, she asked the board to reconsider.

Board members plan to do just that.

Benjie Forrest, District 9 representative, in his closing remarks asked board chairwoman Caroline Doherty to add the issue to the agenda for the board’s next work session on Aug. 21.

“She opened my eyes this evening, as to be aware of nice-looking monograms on shirts, especially in schools that have provided for them to be able to do that,” Forrest said of Johnson. “I would like to see us revisit that again.”

Forrest said that as Johnson was talking during the meeting, he was proud he was not wearing a coat since his shirt was monogrammed. 

“I couldn’t even wear that if I was a student,” Forrest said of his attire. “... Don’t you think that’s a nice looking shirt?”

Contact Sharieka Botex @ 252-329-9567 and sbotex@reflector.com. Follow her on Twitter @ShariekaB. 

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