Posted on August 17, 2004

Schools Ban ‘Offensive’ Student Wear

Erin Elaine Mosely, Montgomery Advertiser (Al.), Aug. 16

Students in Elmore County won’t be whistling “Dixie,” or “Fight the Power” any longer.

The Elmore County Board of Education banned T-shirts depicting the Confederate flag, Malcolm X and any other emblems that could be deemed offensive.

“Our dress code was changed to fit our harassment policy,” said James Myers, assistant superintendent.

Students can no longer wear Dixie Outfitters T-shirts because the brand of T-shirts displays the Confederate flag. In fact, Victoria Gilland, a student at Wetumpka Junior High School, had to change when she wore her Dixie Outfitters T-shirt on the first day of school.

“I think it’s OK,” said Gilland about the new Code of Conduct.

The Elmore County harassment policy stipulates that anything that distracts and prevents students, teachers or faculty from completing work is harassment, Myers said.

While civil rights leader Malcolm X was deemed offensive by the Elmore County school board and is not permitted, clothes that depict the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are permitted. Myers said the county

formed a diversity committee to help the board of education determine what is offensive and what is not.

“They don’t establish policy — the board does that — but they can certainly make recommendations,” Myers said.

The diversity committee is made up of four community leaders, parents, and school staff — one from each community in the Elmore County school district. There must be at least one minority represented from each community. Myers said the board of education selects the people invited to serve on the diversity committee.

At the board of education meeting on August 10, the Sons of Confederate Veterans attended in opposition of the new code.

“We’re still finding out the details. We haven’t come to a conclusion yet,” said Larry Warren, a member of the Tallassee SCV camp. “Basically the county has changed the dress code, and from what we understand they have banned confederate clothing — the Dixie Outfitters shirts that have the confederate flag on them.”

Administrators in Elmore County said they have not received any negative feedback from parents regarding the new policy.

“I have not received any complaints from parents,” said Andre Jackson, assistant principal of Wetumpka Intermediate School. “We try as best we can to make sure all students follow the dress code that includes sagging and short skirts. I believe school uniforms would eliminate a lot of problems.”

Stephen McKenzie, principal of Wetumpka Junior High School, said he only had one student who did not follow the dress code. He said the incident was minor, and he has not had complaints from parents or students.

“Our students have been very cooperative to conforming to our policy at this time,” Myers said. “We have very good students and very good parents. To my knowledge, we have not had any problems with students conforming to our dress code.”