Students at Central and Parkview Magnet high schools have complained in recent days about dress code provisions that they believe to be discriminatory, said Pamela Smith, a spokesman for the Little Rock School District.
At issue at both schools are the terms of the student handbook, Smith said.
The district handbook states that "no head coverings are to be worn in school (unless for religious reasons)."
At Central, students felt it was discriminatory that they weren't allowed to wear scarves "for general purposes," as part of a fashion statement or because of some cultural significance, Smith said.
At Parkview, the issue has centered on skirts being shorter than allowed by the district's current rule, which restricts the length of skirts and shorts to no more than 4 inches above the knee.
"We certainly understand that trends change," Smith said about student clothing preferences.
Those changing norms will be considered when the district undertakes its annual spring revision of the student handbook, she said.
"When we review our student handbook for the upcoming school year, we will make sure there is an extra effort to get students engaged in the process," Smith said. "They have always been invited but what their level of participation has been in the past, I don't know.
"Again, our position is that we respect the student voice. And we are going to be very intentional in our outreach effort to make sure those voices are heard in the revision-making process for the upcoming handbook."
In the meantime, the terms of the district's handbook apply, and the district and its schools have attempted to communicate that to students and their parents.
Smith said students are not typically put out of school for non-compliance with the dress code but are directed to get into compliance.
Custodial service change requested
The Little Rock School District wants state approval to hire SSC Services for Education to provide "turnkey" custodial services at two schools -- Hall High and Stephens Elementary.
The proposed $512,787 contract, to be effective for one year starting March 1, is subject to approval by Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who acts in place of a school board in the state-controlled school district. District leaders say the contract is a cost-neutral expense.
The district's proposal calls for removing custodial management responsibilities from the building principals and reassigning the district-employed custodial staffs at Hall and Stephens to vacant positions at other campuses. As of Jan. 11, the district had 17 vacant custodial positions.
The district has hired SCC Services in the past to provide custodial substitutes and to assist the district in improving flooring systemwide, according to information provided to the Little Rock district's Community Advisory Board.
The company would provide all the training, equipment, uniforms and management for their staff assigned to the two schools.
Advisory position draws 4 hopefuls
Four people so far have applied to Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key for an appointment to the Little Rock School District's Community Advisory Board, representing Zone 5.
The zone encompasses a part of west Little Rock. The position is unpaid. The advisory board reviews operations in the state-controlled school system and makes recommendations to the commissioner on employee and other matters.
The applicants are:
• Molly Humphries, who doesn't currently work outside her home but previously worked in financial planning and investments.
• Greg Moore, who lists his occupation as manager/child protection and in-home services for ICF, Inc./Capacity Building Center for States. Moore's wife, Chelsey Moore, works for the Arkansas Department of Education as an adviser for parent and family engagement.
• Jocelyn Craig, communications specialist for Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care.
• Cameron Paul Sharpe, a math teacher at eStem charter schools.
Both Humphries and Craig say on their applications that they reside in the Little Rock district's Zone 4, which covers the northwest part of the city.
Metro on 01/30/2019