The first day of school is less than a month away, and Sharyland ISD administration is in preparation mode for the 2023-2024 year, which includes the annual updates to the student code of conduct and dress code.
This year, SISD amended the student code of conduct to comply with four bills that state leaders passed in the 88th Texas legislative session.
One of the changes pertains to the possession of vapes or e-cigarettes. House Bill 114 requires school districts to place students in a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP) if caught with, selling or under the influence of a vape or e-cigarette within 300 feet of school property or at a school-sanctioned event. The new law treats vapes as controlled substances like marijuana or alcohol.
If the DAEP is at capacity, the district will place the student in in-school suspension (ISS) until a spot opens in the DAEP. But the idea is to keep students in the classroom. Republican Sen. Tan Parker, who co-authored the bill, said the disciplinary action was one step above detention, one below suspension.
A 2022 study found that more than 2.5 million middle and high schoolers use vapes at school, which caused many districts, including Sharyland, to install special detectors. The smart sensors can distinguish abnormalities in air quality, and the hope is they discourage vaping on school grounds. But the new house bill aims to be an additional deterrent strategy.
“The state is sending a very clear message that we don’t want vapes in our schools,” Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Pamela Montalvo said.
Also related to a disciplinary alternative education program and special education services is House Bill 3928. If a student enters DAEP, the law requires school districts to inform legal guardians of the right to request an evaluation of the student for special education services.
HB 3928 originated from the Texas Dyslexia Coalition, which lawmakers designed to improve dyslexia services for students.
Additionally, SISD updated the code of conduct to comply with Senate Bill 37, which relates to reporting a hazing incident. Previously, school districts could not act on reports of hazing or planned hazing incidents unless it was in written form. Now, a child can make a verbal hazing outcry without needing it in writing.
Finally, House Bill 1427 expands the offense of harassment under the Penal Code. It now includes making obscene, intimidating or threatening remarks via phone or other electronic communication from a temporary or disposable number.
The laws go into effect Sept. 1.
Administration met with all the principals and assistant principals to talk about what they experienced with the dress code last year as Sharyland ISD transitioned to gender-neutral regulations.
“We did find some areas where we need to tighten up because when we let go of some things, it got kind of loose,” Montalvo said. “Some of it is just older wording that is no longer applicable or people are like, ‘I don’t even know what that means.’ So if we can’t say what it means, we took it off.”
Code update includes several new stipulations for blouses, such as length, straps, material and style. Leggings, jeggings or any form-fitting athletic wear is not allowed in grades 3-12, regardless if the student has a top garment of a certain length.
The rules also contain a new line item for blankets and pillows, which are not permitted, including the specification that students cannot wear a blanket as a coat.
Students may not cover dress code violations with outerwear such as jackets, hoodies or coats. And if the student cannot correct the violation at school, they will report to ISS for the remainder of the day. Parents can no longer bring a change of clothes or drop off items to remedy the situation. The following school day, a staff member will conduct a dress code compliance check with the student before their first class.