Chat about back-to-school rules

August 2, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Free State High School Principal Joe Snyder will take questions about guidelines regarding school supplies, appropriate dress and the personal technology that is - and is not - allowed in school.


Welcome to this morning's chat. I'm Mindie Paget of the Journal-World, and I'll be moderating the discussion. We're joined by Free State High School Principal Joe Snyder, who's here to talk about guidelines regarding school supplies, appropriate dress and the personal technology that is - and is not - allowed in school. Thanks for your time, Joe.

Joe Snyder:

Good morning to all. I am Joe Snyder, Principal of Free State. Hope you are having a great summer.


What do you recommend is the best way for parents and students to thoroughly prepare for high school this year as far as school supplies and being in the right mind frame overall to start the year off successfully?

Joe Snyder:

Most students are eager to start school, especially to get together with friends and to make new ones. Supply-wise, students will be given direction by their teachers during the first few days of classes about what is specifically needed. Of course, it is always helpful to have notebook and pen to start out. Regarding right mind frame, the simplest rule of thumb seems to be to encourage students to get involved in their school. It doesn't matter--join a club, belong to an athletic team--but most of all come to school with an open mind to learning something new every day. When a parent asks what happened at school, you might turn the question into "what did you learn today?" That's what is important.


Has the school district considered working with local merchant(s) to offer discounted school supplies?

Joe Snyder:

I am not sure what the district has considered. That would be a question to pose to district official. I know that some businesses already offer some discounts but I don't keep a list of those.


Regarding personal electronics, does a teacher have the authority to confiscate cell phones and Ipods from students? And what if the student refuses to give them up?

Joe Snyder:

Yes, the teacher has the authority to confiscate such equipment. The building policy regarding this is as follows:

Cell Phones and Electronic Equipment
Cell phones and other electronic equipment may be used in the commons before school begins and after school ends as well as during the lunch period.
These devices must be kept out of sight and turned off during the instructional program to avoid distraction and disruption of the learning environment. Unauthorized, disruptive use of such devices will result in confiscation of the device. Confiscated devices will be taken to the appropriate assistant principal and returned at the end of the day. Repeated unauthorized use of such devices will lead to further disciplinary action, including loss of privileges.

If a student refuses to turn in the electronic equipment, they will receive a referral for further disciplinary action or be sent to the assistant principal in charge of the offense.

In the end the purpose of such actions is to maintain a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to instruction and learning.


What's the administrative standard for sending a student home to change clothes, or to cover up? And are there ever questions among faculty as to how a kid got to his/her last class of the day without being sent home to change first?

Joe Snyder:

It is unclear what you mean by an administrative standard. If a student is sent to the office because of inappropriate clothing, the student can be sent home or given a change of clothes. The administrator supports the teacher when they send students down. Your second question says more about how people interprete appropriate clothing today. Often, much of it is subjective. This is how the student handbook reads:

Student Attire
The administration, faculty and staff of FSHS reserve the right to enforce reasonable dress guidelines to ensure a safe and orderly educational environment. Any dress which may infringe upon the ability of other students to learn or may present a safety hazard is subject to administrative action. Students should consider the following guidelines with respect to attire:
1. Caps, hats or full head coverings are not to be worn in the building from 7:00 a.m. until the end of school hours unless the attire is in keeping with religious practice. Parents must request in writing for this guideline to be waived on religious grounds.
2. Clothing with reference to alcohol, drugs or gangs is prohibited.
3. Clothing with offensive language or symbols is prohibited.
4. Clothing which promotes or conveys hate messages is prohibited.
5. Clothing that may endanger the student or others including chains and spikes is prohibited.
6. Clothing that is distracting so that it interferes with the teaching and learning process is prohibited.
7. A coach, director or sponsor may extend guidelines that meet or exceed the above.

Hope that helps.


Are laptops allowed in school? If not, will there ever be a time when high schools allow them, more like a college setting, for taking notes, etc.?

Joe Snyder:

There is ready access to computers for students when they need them. The ratio for students to computers is less than 3 students to one computer. Most students readily get to access during the day. At this point, lap tops cannot be connected to any of the district network. Some students on occasion have brought laptops to take notes because of a special need but that has been rare. It seems that the district direction will be to provide more wireless access but at this point that is available. It may be soon.


Are you seeing any trends in school supplies? For example, 20 years ago, everyone at my junior high carried a clipboard, but that went "out of style." Pencils with colorful rubber grips were the thing to have for a while, too, but I suspect those have gone by the wayside as well.

Joe Snyder:

I am not aware of any fashion trends in school supplies today. Who knows-maybe I'll see something new soon.


What new piece of popular personal technology today do you believe most frequently disrupts classes?

Joe Snyder:

The cell phone


Looks like those are all the questions we have this morning. Thanks for your submissions, and thanks, Joe, for taking time to answer them. Hope you have a smooth school year.

Joe Snyder:

Thanks for the opportunity to chat on-line. It is my first time. My message to students is:

Welcome to Free State! We have completed 10 great years and look forward to another successful decade. The administration and staff will use their energies to create the type of programs and atmosphere to enable you to be successful. Your part is to (1) come to school ready to learn, (2) go to class on time, (3) work hard to get good grades, and (4) follow the guidelines in this handbook. As we begin this new year at Free State, I challenge you to become involved in the academic, extracurricular, and social life of the school. We will create a vibrant and growing learning community provided we all pitch in, work together, and persistently carry out our responsibilities. These positive attitudes create the proper school climate. I look forward to this coming year and many successes at Free State. My best wishes to you for a successful year.


storm 10 years, 10 months ago

From this high school's website - "Welcome to Lawrence Free State High School. Since opening in 1997, Free State has served for seven years as Lawrence's second high school located on the northwest side..." I was wondering if FSHS updates the website, because the year is 2007, and subtracting 1997 from that equals ten years. (It's such easy math, I'm sure the error is not math.)

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