Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Washington school board repealed district rules preventing students from wearing hats and hoods in class in a unanimous vote Wednesday night.
“Being at the high school and working with some of the kids, I’m finding that … education is not thwarted by wearing a hat,” Washington High School Principal Teresa Beenblossom said. “A hat or a hood can enhance some students that need it, and doesn’t hurt the education of others if they have it.”
Curriculum Director Veta Thode said the option to wear the items would improve attendance for some students.
“The WRAP center has allowed hats for as long as I’ve been principal there, and the students are thrilled to be able to have that opportunity,” she said. “It seems like a small thing, but it’s a big deal to some of the kids.”
Washington Middle School Principal Curt Mayer said the change would accommodate the needs of some students with trauma and learning disabilities, among others.
“When they put up their hood, they’re able to filter out all of the distractions and possibly some of the triggers around them,” he said. “We have kids that are using it as a comfort, they feel safe with it, they’re using it as a coping strategy.”
Superintendent Willie Stone added that hats and hoods had become commonplace for a new generation.
“Come to our basketball games, when I looked around the other night there’s probably just as many hats on as hats off … When I played people didn’t wear hats indoors,” Superintendent Willie Stone said. “Our society is changing. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to change, but in this instance, if it helps our students academically and gives them the ability to feel more comfortable, to me it doesn’t make sense to not change.”
The handbook change, which takes effect immediately, is not without caveats. While school board members said they worried about scenarios where head covers could be disruptive, the repeal comes with a new catchall rule to address those concerns.
“If a hat or a hood is seen as disruptive in class, the individual middle school or high school staff will address that on a student-by-student basis,” Stone said. “If it becomes a problem with someone, then it’s addressed individually with them.”