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Ardmore superintendent says elementary school dress code change was honest mistake

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Ardmore elementary students may have noticed a change in their handbooks a month ago when a line was added prohibiting “social and political” clothing.

Ardmore City Schools superintendent Kim Holland said Monday that it was an employee’s innocent mistake.

“Inadvertently uploaded the worksheet instead of the regular handbook,” Holland said. “We went back and corrected that.”

Holland said it happened after teachers and principals had a yearly meeting to decide if anything in the handbook needed to be changed. Eventually, they decided the handbook was fine as is.

“We didn’t see a need to change the handbook,” Holland said. “Our board president didn’t see that need either. We feel like the handbook represents right now what’s been ruled on in the Supreme Court and we don’t believe we’re in violation of anything either.”

Last month Ben Stapleton, a third grader at Charles Evans Elementary in Ardmore wore a Black Lives Matter shirt to school. He was asked to turn it inside out and later sent to the principal’s office.

At the time, the superintendent told KXII that was because school wasn’t the place for political disagreements.

Holland said shirts with logos are taken on a case by case basis.

“Most of them, if they’re wearing a shirt they think will be controversial, they’ll bring another one with them,” Holland said.

Now that the handbook has been corrected, the latest handbook just states logos should be in good taste.

“It’s more or less a general rule that talks about disruption, not being disruptive in school,” Holland said.

Holland said that means no campaign slogans.

“Biden and Harris, Trump and Pence,” Holland said. “We try to not get that going back and forth.”

But for high schoolers, the rules are more lenient.

“Because they’ve had a little time to develop and they’re going to be registering to vote before long,” Holland said. “So the way we handle those situations is a little bit different.”

As for elementary students like 8 year old Stapleton, Holland said he’s worn his shirt to school several times since he was sent to the principal’s office.

“If they wear a shirt out that is not appropriate or something like that, principals have let them turn it around and keep going,” Holland said. “But the Black Lives Matter shirt as far as we’re concerned is a non issue.”

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