School administration at Mahanoy Area Junior/Senior High School threatened students on Friday who they believe are planning a silent protest Monday against the school’s dress code.
The letter was posted to the school’s Facebook page by Mahanoy Area Junior/Senior High School Principal Stanley Sabol.
Based on what the principal divulges in this letter, a large number of students are planning to wear hoodies in school on Monday, April 12.
That goes against the school’s official 3½ page Dress Code, included in the Student Handbook.
Mahanoy Area Principal Threatens Students Against Hoodie Protest in Facebook Post
This seems like a fairly mundane issue. And the protest planned sounds mostly peaceful. It’s all silly, really.
But the tone of Sabol’s letter sounds a little disturbing. He sounds really torn up about the idea of Monday’s planned protest.
“This is not acceptable, violates our dress code policy, and any students that are in violation will be held accountable according to our discipline code,” the letter reads.
Now, according to the school’s Dress Code, violations are addressed by a series of actions. A first and second offense can result in an in-school suspension if the student can’t or doesn’t change their clothing that the school considers inappropriate.
The third offense will result in in-school suspension and detention. A fourth offense carries a penalty of in-school suspension, detention, and a parent conference. On the fifth offense, the student gets an in-school suspension and the school says it will consider a citation filed in District court.
When is a Dress Code Violation More than a Dress Code Violation? Never.
Like we noted, however, this isn’t just a Dress Code violation, at least not to Sabol.
“This will not simply be a dress code violation, it will be treated as an act of defiance and insubordination, and will be dealt with as such,” Sabol writes.
We have no idea what that could possibly mean. It sounds like a threat. And yes, by definition, this is “simply … a dress code violation.”
According to Mahanoy Area’s official Discipline Code, there’s nothing the school can legally do that isn’t addressed in the Dress Code punishment system. In fact, a Dress Code violation is considered a Level 1 offense and is punishable by warnings, parent conferences, detention, confiscation of material, withdrawal of privileges, and “other” according to the handbook.
Of course, whether something is legal or not doesn’t seem to bother many at Mahanoy Area School District.
There’s a case before the Supreme Court of the United States to determine if the school was justified in suspending a former student from the cheer squad for something she posted online a few years ago.
And in this school term, Mahanoy Area’s Superintendent threatened to condemn students who were caught several times with face mask violations to virtual school only. We’re not sure that’s legal and pretty sure it isn’t.
So, that “other” punishment listed in the student handbook for daring to wear a hoodie could be anything at this point, especially at Mahanoy Area.
Protest the Way We Want You to Protest
What’s really grinding Sabol’s gears here is that he doesn’t appear to be in control of the situation. His beef is with the manner of protest.
“There are proper avenues to go about trying to get something you want, but being defiant and/or insubordinate is not one of those avenues,” Sabol writes.
That’s definitely his opinion but it seems that students believe they’ve exhausted that avenue. The mere idea of a student protest is triggering Sabol and likely other admins at Mahanoy Area.
Instead, he suggests the students “request a time” to meet with himself and Matthew Giannelli, the school’s assistant principal. At that hypothetical meeting, the principals believe, as they tell students in this letter, “inform you of the best avenue to take to try to get hoodies as part of the approved clothing added to the current dress code policy.”
Mahanoy Area’s Flawed Dress Code
It seems a lot of people have varying opinions on the way they think students should dress for school. Opinions are all over the place.
You have people who believe kids should be dressing like they did in the 50s and 60s: button down shirts, slacks (no jeans), and a pair of shoes (not sneakers).
Then you have people who are in favor of the more contemporary dress codes – especially locally – that read more like a school uniform: a little Commie outfit of a school-colored polo shirt and khakis.
Mahanoy Area’s dress code is actually somewhere in the middle, something you likely would have seen back in the 70s through the 90s. For the most part, it requires students are clean, clothes aren’t torn in areas that show a little too much skin, and that graphics or wording on the clothes isn’t promoting booze or something vulgar.
And at Mahanoy Area, NO HOODIES!
Why no hoodies? The school doesn’t really address in its Dress Code why hoodies aren’t allowed. In fact, the school’s Dress Code policy appears to be written rather hastily, likely to address a growing trend the school wanted to stop in its tracks.
It sounds as though whoever approved the policy wanted to make the tired argument that school is like a job and you don’t wear hoodies to your job. That’s not “good judgement” or acting “responsibly” according to this policy.
Here’s the reasoning behind the dress code, straight from the student handbook:
That part about the “most important job” gets lost after the first sentence, doesn’t it? It’s just filled with all the exhausted arguments for dress codes that nearly every school makes.
We wonder, if kids at Mahanoy Area are supposed to dress like they going to a job, then why are they allowed to wear sweatpants?