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School dress code plan has detractors

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

Some people have complained that Cherokee Middle School’s proposed dress code would create an economic hardship.

“‘Why am I having to pay extra money to get clothing for a public education?’ they tell me,” Roane County Board of Education Member Hugh Johnson said.

Students who have a hard time financially could purchase low-cost “gently used items” from a school store that Cherokee would open twice a year. 

“To me, that’s an embarrassment,” Johnson said. 

Johnson was a coach in the local school system for many, many years.

He wondered how a student’s self-esteem might be affected if he or she was seen purchasing clothes from the school store. 

“Hey, I’ve been out there for 39 years,” he said. “I know what those kids go through.”

Cherokee Principal Elizabeth Rose told board members last month that the proposed policy is the result of problems student attire has caused at the school.

Some of the issues she cited were T-shirts with inappropriate messages and holes in jeans.

Rose also addressed Johnson’s concerns about the school store and “gently used items.”

“We will have a store I guarantee you that will be for free just like that prom closet that will be brand-new items for students,” she said. “I’m not going to embarrass any child. I would never want to embarrass any child.” 

Rose said she’s spoken with other principals who have the same problems with student attire as Cherokee.  

“If she’s spoken with other principals that have this same problem, then that means it’s countywide,” Board Member Kim Nelson said. “If it’s countywide, if it’s a problem, then we need to address it as a board.”

The school board’s policy committee meets on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the central office.

Board Member Wade McCullough said the Cherokee dress code issue will be discussed during the meeting.