Boise schools will see a new dress code when school starts in August, after trustees unanimously passed a new policy in Monday night’s meeting.
The new dress code comes after district data revealed discrepancies in dress code enforcement that disproportionately targeted female students and students of color. The district embarked on a months-long process of digging into the code, and collecting community and student feedback.
Trustees focused on cutting down arbitrary language in the new policy to prevent inconsistency from school to school, and give school staff clear guidelines. They hope the new policy will improve student-staff relationships, limit the code’s impact on teaching time and give parents more control over their child’s dress and education.
The proposal also emphasizes enforcement training for administrators and school staff.
One district patron showed for public comment on the code.
Becky Terhaar, a mother of two Boise students, said she’s seen the impacts of the previous dress code first hand.
Her daughter, now a high schooler, has been frequently cited for violating the dress code throughout her time at North Junior High School and now Boise High School. She began testing the dress code to see if her friends would get cited while wearing her clothes, and they weren’t.
“The dress code was less about the attire and more about how some adults in the classroom or in the school setting were uncomfortable being around students with breasts,” Terhaar told the board.
The new code, she said, is a vast improvement on the previous code — with some caveats.
“It goes a long way toward reducing the sort of uneven enforcement that often targeted people based on their body type or just their manner of dressing in ways that maybe weren’t actually inappropriate but stood out from their peers,” she said.
But Terhaar added that prohibiting “visible underwear” could unintentionally lead to added violations for students who wear bras as undershirts or for extra coverage.
The board acknowledged Terhaar’s comment before unanimously approving the policy, and said changes could be made to the new code down the line.
Trustee applications to open Wednesday
The Boise School Board is on the lookout for a new trustee.
The board officially declared a vacancy Monday night, left by former trustee Andy Hawes, who announced his departure at a May meeting.
Trustee applications will go live on Wednesday, according to board president Dave Wagers, and district staff. Any district patron who wants to apply to be a trustee must return their application by Aug. 11. The board will then host a workshop on Aug. 18 to narrow down applications, and will later conduct candidate interviews.
The goal, said Wagers, is to have a new trustee in place by Sept. 11.
Board approves three ISBA resolutions
Trustees approved three resolutions — or legislative directives — to take to the Idaho School Boards Association later this year for full approval. ISBA resolutions, if approved, become the education organization’s legislative priorities for the year.
The resolutions consider paraprofessional requirements, school funding, and open enrollment.
Requirements for paraprofessional employment in Idaho
This resolution calls for an amendment to Idaho Code that would eliminate roadblocks for prospective paraprofessionals, said trustee Nancy Gregory.
As of December 2022, local districts can no longer administer the PRAXIS — an aptitude test for prospective parapros. Instead, they must go to a testing site and pay an $80 test fee.
“The testing system is already backlogged nearly one month for scheduling the test, and should the prospective employee fail the test by even a single point, they would need to wait at least another month to retest,” reads the resolution.
The resolution calls on the Legislature to allow local districts to administer State Board-approved assessments for paraprofessional certification in lieu of the PRAXIS.
“This is not just a Boise School District issue, this is a statewide issue,” said Gregory.
Open enrollment program and building capacity limits
This resolution comes as a reaction to a law passed in the most recent legislative session, which requires schools to accept students from outside district boundaries — a program known across Idaho as open enrollment.
The directive calls on the Legislature to allow districts to make exceptions in open enrollment when school buildings are at or over capacity, or when a school’s special programs (like career technical education and special education) are full.
It would also allow a district to transfer a student to another school without parental consent, when their current school has reached or exceeded capacity.
K-12 funding formula principles
The district’s final resolution calls on the Legislature to rewrite Idaho’s school funding formula — a complex system that dictates how schools get money and how much money they receive.
The new formula should adhere to principles and requirements laid out in the resolution:
- Uniformity and thoroughness
- Supportive of quality staffing
- Holds harmless (does not decrease the per-pupil dollars a district currently receives)
- Reinstates enrollment based funding
All three resolutions will be heard and voted on by the Idaho School Boards Association membership this fall.