MAPLE PARK – The no-hat policy at Kaneland High School will be no more when the kids return to school in the fall.
Students will be able to show their loyalty to their favorite baseball team in August with the hopes that the Cubs or White Sox, or whomever it is they’re rooting for, are smack dab in the middle of a pennant race. They’ll also be permitted to wear other hats as long as they’re not deemed to be disruptive or bearing an obscene or inflammatory message.
It’s those uncertainties that will be tested over time, as Michael Rice, director of educational services 6-12 for Kaneland Community School District 302, acknowledged that it’s just a pilot and among the topics that are currently being considered for handbook updates.
Rice made his presentation during the Board of Education meeting on April 29.
“I think one of the (topics) we can kind of highlight with the student dress code, and which really tries to give students more ways to empower themselves and express themselves, is allowing them to wear hats,” Rice said. “There was a big conversation with (Kaneland Dean of Students) Josh West and the handbook committee, and they realized that there are bigger battles to fight than wearing hats, and Kaneland doesn’t have some of the issues that other (districts) might have. We want to see what would happen if we went a year without that (no-hat policy).”
Board member Teresa Witt voiced her concern over big hats, such as cowboy hats being used to conceal items, while fellow board member Pedro Rivas pointed out that sombreros could also be used to hide items. Furthermore, both types of hats would undoubtedly block the view of the student sitting behind the person wearing the hat.
“Are they wearing it for an appropriate cause or are they doing it to wear a massive hat to disrupt the class,” Rice asked. “We know we’ll have some challenges, like everything else, so we will monitor it and take feedback and see what needs to be tweaked along the way.”
Rice explained that the hat policy change, as well as any others, is being made to align current language with guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education or other state entities as well as to align with any changes made to Board of Education policies via PRESS, the Illinois Association of School Boards' policy and procedure information service.
Highlights of the changes include updating policies regarding party and lunch attendance to include provisions regarding siblings and clarifying vocabulary and formatting to make the handbook easier to read for K-5; ensuring all students are notified in a timely matter of upcoming sex education units in accordance with IBSE and Regional Office of Education guidelines and updating bullying policy language to align with current practice and current legislation for grades 6-8; and updating language regarding the use of electronic devices in a disruptive manner and the previously mentioned hat policy for grades 9-12. Finally, among several district highlights is the implementation of language to coincide with the 1:1 rollout and handbook.