Demopolis BOE discusses student handbook revisions including dress code enforcement, phone policy

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 14, 2024

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The Demopolis City School Board is considering several revisions to the student code of conduct for the 2024-2025 school year.

School Superintendent Tony Willis said a group of principals, secretaries and other school employees have worked together on the code of conduct to eliminate inconsistencies in punishment and update it based on new policies.

One of the most significant changes is that students will not be sent home for dress code violations unless it’s an egregious violation that cannot be corrected at school. Willis said administrators did not want to send students home.

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“We have struggled with some of these kids to get them to school, and when they got to school if they didn’t have the right stuff, they were getting sent home,” Willis said. “We just said no, we’re not gonna do that. We’ll give them a warning and try to correct the issue at school.”

Willis said Bargain Box had donated a “stash” of clothes to the district, and those clothing items are being given to students when they show up wearing something inappropriate. They are also issued a warning to make note of the violation. Additional violations after the warning could potentially be classified as defiance, which would carry additional penalties including suspension.

Willis said they are also adding more teeth to its enforcement to prevent students from having multiple cell phones at school. They will be issuing students a pouch to place their phones in during the day, but Willis said some students were circumventing the rule by putting a “burner” phone in a pouch while their real phones were in their pockets.

The new rules add stiffer punishment for students caught with another phone outside of their school-issued pouch.

“If we’re making this much effort to not have phones, it’s gonna be a little more of a punishment if they violate the rules,” Willis said.

Other changes include the new language regarding the “Teachers Bill of Rights” law that passed the State Legislature this year. The law states that if teachers send a student to the office, then there is an expectation that the student will receive punishment. Willis said they wanted to make sure that teachers were properly issuing warnings and classroom punishment before escalating it to sending the student to the office.

“First, you’ve gotta have a formal warning, an official documented warning. And then a second time is a parent note,” Willis said. “The third time, you have to have a meeting and say the next time this happens, they’re going to be sent to the office. After that, the principal should have no problem putting some consequences because they have been warned, and parents have been notified.”

Willis noted that even though they have spent hours poring over the handbook, there still may be things that are not what they want.

“We could work on this for a hundred hours, and we’re still gonna have something that comes up,” Willis said. “All we can do is do the best we can.”

The new code of conduct was presented to the Demopolis school board for its first reading on Monday, but school board members wanted to get parental input before the changes were made.

The proposed handbook is available on the district website, and Willis said they are offer a way to send feedback to the school board about the handbook. One thing that they are also waiting on is a training seminar for the cell phone pouches. Once that is completed in early July, he said they would release information about how that will work next year.

For more information or to read the code of conduct, log on here: