Ardmore elementary dress code updated, ban of 'social or political content' removed

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Ardmore City Schools Board of Education approved a corrected version of the elementary school dress code for 2021-2022 on Tuesday after erroneously approving a draft handbook that prohibited "social or political content" from clothing and potentially violating First Amendment rights to free speech.

The Ardmore City Schools Board of Education approved a change to elementary school handbooks and removed language prohibiting clothing with social or political content. The board president reiterated the only change to the dress code regarded holes in jeans and did not reference the problematic sentence the school claims was included by accident. 

“The board has learned that an incorrect version of the elementary handbook was uploaded to assembly and was voted on at the May 18 meeting. The error has been brought to our attention and I would like to recommend we revote on a portion of the elementary handbook to clear up any misunderstanding,” Foreman told the board on Tuesday, referring to the Assemble Meetings web portal used by Oklahoma school districts to maintain publicly available documents.

“With regard to the elementary dress code, I would like to note that the only addition to the elementary dress code is a sentence providing guidelines for jeans that have holes in them,” he said. 

The board approved the change unanimously. Board member Carey Baldwin asked if the board could revisit the handbook again before the beginning of the school year, to which Foreman and Superintendent Kim Holland answered yes. No other references to the dress code or handbooks were made.

The Ardmoreite published a story on May 27 that reported the board had quietly updated the elementary dress code over a week earlier based on publicly available documents uploaded to the district’s website on May 10. Hours after the story was published online, Foreman responded to confirm that the handbooks were approved without board discussion but neither he nor Holland could explain the language in publicly available documents. 

An updated version of the handbook was uploaded to the school board’s website on June 10 that scrubbed the prohibition of social or political clothing and made no mention of the handbook approved on May 18. Multiple requests for comment from board members and school officials went unanswered through Monday until an administrative assistant reached out to claim that the line was included in a draft version of handbooks and erroneously included in the May 18 vote.