Aubrey ISD has received some negative publicity recently due to their enforcement of their dress code policy. Two middle school girls wore jackets with air force logos larger than the 1.5 by 1.5 inches as specified in the dress code and were asked not to wear the jackets any more during in-class school hours. This upset their father, Phillip Rolen, who immediately called the Aubrey Middle School principal, Karen Wright. Principal Wright asked to see the jackets and determined that the jackets did violate the dress code.
Phillip Rolen did not give up the fight for the jackets, so he took it to the media and Twitter. This attracted national attention to the battle for a change in the dress code. However, this escalated the situation and eventually led to serious threats against the school and the school’s administrators. The authorities felt the threats were serious enough to warrant added police presence at Aubrey school which began immediately.
Aubrey Independent School District has been called unpatriotic and has been portrayed in a negative way as news reached across the nation. However, many students and teachers of Aubrey ISD do not feel that the school district is unpatriotic or deserving of the bad reputation it has gained recently.
As superintendent Debby Sanders wrote in an email, “Aubrey ISD wholeheartedly supports the men and women of our armed services and our military veterans who have given so much for their country. Our dress code has been in effect for a decade, and it helps instill in our students a pride and discipline to support their focus on learning every day. It is our honor and our duty to support our men and women in uniform, and Aubrey ISD will continue to do so.”
Aubrey ISD’s dress code was never intended to be restrictive towards patriotism. One Aubrey High School had this to say about the current situation, “I believe that my fellow students at Aubrey High School show patriotism through the red, white and blue that we wear every day. I believe that the standards that Aubrey sets for our dress is professional, as well as patriotic. I believe that we will never be restricted in the pride that we show for our country and military. My only wish now is that the nation could see how truly proud we as a student body are to be not only Aubrey Chaparrals, but to live under the stars and stripes.”
Most students and teachers do not think that the Rolen twins’ dress code violations spawned from the fact that it was a military logo, but rather that the jacket just happened to violate the policy.
So what does the dress code say about hoodies?
The dress code states, “Sweaters, sweatshirts or hoodies that advertise by name, symbol, or slogan any store/designer brand are not acceptable, except those containing ONE emblem measuring no more than 1.5”x 1.5”.”
Some people have presented the argument that the policy does not apply to the air force jackets because they believe that the Air Force is not a designer brand. However, the Air Force symbol could be considered a designer logo because it is trademarked. They most certainly did not ask the girls not to wear the jackets because it was the Air Force logo, but because it was simply a logo that was bigger than the dress code allowed.
To attend Aubrey schools, students and parents must agree to follow the dress code and abide by the student code of conduct. In doing so, parents and students agree not only to the above restrictions on jackets, but they also agree that “The district reserves the right to prohibit any clothing or grooming style that the administration determines to pose health or safety hazards or that may cause the disruption of, distraction from, or interference with general school operations.” This means that even if the Air Force logo could not be considered a designer logo, the school still reserves the right to prohibit the jacket based on potential distraction caused by the jacket.
As one Aubrey ISD student said, “If they didn’t like the policy, they shouldn’t have agreed to abide by the student hand book.”
Most students and teachers now stand with the district and, though some do not agree fully with the dress code, they do not feel that Aubrey ISD is unpatriotic or deserving of a bad reputation. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of Aubrey ISD students and teachers believe that Phillip Rolen’s approach to combatting the district on the dress code was inappropriate.
Several parents and students have suggested that Rolen’s approach should have been to go to the school board first instead of going directly to social media and news sites. To paraphrase one teacher, “you need to choose your battles and how you approach them wisely. Is it right that my son has to go to a school with increased police presence because of a jacket?”
Jeff Perry, a Marine Veteran, a parent to two children in the Aubrey school district and Mayor Pro Tem of Aubrey had this to say about the incident.
“First of all, as a veteran, I understand chain of command as well as abiding by a dress code. Therefore I am unable to comprehend how a fellow veteran would not understand and abide by standard dress protocol. As we all know, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about affecting change. We veterans have no excuse for not understanding how the chain of command works. Going straight to the media, and especially when arming them with half-truths or outright lies (that the issue is over the content rather than the size of the logo) rather than attending a single school board meeting, or meeting with other concerned parents, is not in my opinion the right way to handle the situation. As parents, we were all advised of the dress code when we enrolled our kids into school. This family knowingly violated it and then screamed foul when they were called on it. By choosing to use social media and calling on an uninvolved public, the father’s actions caused our school administrators to receive death threats. Sadly enough, his concern seems to be more about his trumped up crusade than the fact that he is potentially endangering not only his own children, but ALL of OUR children as well.
Additionally, as a parent and a taxpayer, how much of our school funds are being spent on keeping our children safe, by providing additional security at each campus? Although I wouldn’t begrudge a single dollar, these funds are meant for and should be used for our children’s education.
I know I personally corresponded with him on his facebook page, but the logic I provided fell on deaf ears. Apparently his fifteen minutes of fame were more important to him than the safety of his own and our children. Fortunately, it looks like that fifteen minutes is beginning to pass. I hope he thinks it was worth it.”
For now, the school has increased police presence on campus in response to some threats, and has decided to allow students to wear larger military logos. In the future however, the dress code will be revisited, and some feel that a full uniform may be in order to prevent conflicts like this from arising.