Student Amaya Neal speaks with a report outside of last week's school board meeting, where several parents and one student spoke out against the district's dress code. (Photo by Greg Rickabaugh)

The Fort Mill School District is handing the debate over the dress code to School Improvement Councils before taking a survey of all parents, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon. 

   The decision comes after more than 5,600 people signed a petition asking the district to rewrite the dress code, calling the policies “unrealistic, arbitrarily enforced and unfair” to females. Also, several parents and one student complained to school trustees at last week’s board meeting.

   Here is Tuesday’s statement from the school district:

   “After receiving comments and opinions, concerns and support for the dress code policy from students, parents and community members, FMSD Board Chair Kristy Spears instructed the administration to review the current policy and its implementation. Under that directive, the administration has implemented a policy review.

   “In accordance with district procedures over the next few months, each principal will review the policy with their School Improvement Council, which includes parents, community members and, at the high school level, students. Following the SIC meetings, the principals will meet with their school level principal groups to provide feedback and recommendations to the district administration. The administration will then seek input through a survey from all parents before drafting a new policy to be presented to the board.

   “Under district policy, any new policy recommendations must have two readings before the school board, which will also allow for additional feedback from the community. This process, along with the survey, will ensure that everyone has an equal voice in the development of this policy. We understand that everyone has a different viewpoint when it comes to the dress code. It is our job to work with everyone and find a solution to best serve the students in our district.”

Reaction was swift on Facebook, with one parent thanking the district for the consideration.

“We appreciate your efforts and especially appreciate taking the kids well being into consideration and not threatening the kids with uniforms to quiet them,” said parent Andrea Franco Roberts. “Their healthy learning experience is what matters most here. We love our district and hope that you make choices that positively affect the children.”