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Footprints for Learning Academy reacts to criticism over dress code

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:43 am

Representatives from Footprints Learning Academy release statement regarding contraversial dress code.
Representatives from Footprints Learning Academy release statement regarding contraversial dress code.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie’s Footprints for Learning Academy – a not-for-profit, kindergarten to Grade 8 private school program – was in hot water May 9 when parents took to social media to criticize the school’s Dress and Grooming Code.

Some parents took issue with section 18, which states that “acceptable clothing for boys (is): shirts, T-shirts, pants, sweaters. Boys may not wear skirts, dresses, jumpers or other clothing and accessories specifically intended for girls.”

Because of the exclusion of the particular items of clothing, critics of the code believed it excluded those in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and hindered a persons’ freedom to wear clothing that expressed themselves.

Comments were removed by administration of the Airdrie Mom’s Facebook group before press time.

Further to the online criticism through the Facebook Airdrie Moms page and Twitter, a Calgary newspaper printed a story on May 10 on the community’s reaction.

“Metro News (Calgary) recently published an article concerning our Dress Code. The article reports statements from an anonymous parent concerning an incident involving her son that occurred almost a year ago. The parent’s statements as reported in the article are incomplete, inaccurate and misleading and do not fairly or accurately report what really happened” said Laura Bancroft Footprints for Learning board vice president in a prepared statement.

“Contrary to what the article and parent of the boy are suggesting, we do not tolerate bullying for any reason, we do not have any discriminatory policies, and did not say anything regarding an alleged ‘gay agenda’ as the article incorrectly and offensively states.”

Metro News did not use the name of the parent or student in the referenced article.

According to Bancroft, the school’s administration met privately in 2013 with the parent referred to in the article after her son came to school (kindergarten) dressed in a dress. Prior to re-enrolling for September 2013, the parent and her son received the Dress Code and signed confirmation that they had read and agreed to comply with.

“However, shortly afterwards, her son brought a book to school for his kindergarten teacher to read to his class. The book promoted the acceptability of a boy wearing a dress to school,” she explained.

“This is contrary to our school’s dress code. The teacher contacted administration and handled the situation with sensitivity both to the boy and his parent. However, the parent would not accept school administration’s decision not to permit the teacher (as a person in authority) to read the book to her son’s kindergarten class.

“We met privately with the parent to explain and discuss the matter and encouraged her to have her son continue to attend our school. The parent insisted that we change the decision and permit the book to be read by the teacher to the kindergarten class. We declined to do so and the parent immediately removed her son from our school.”

“Our school’s Dress Code was developed in consultation with parents. The overwhelming consensus of parents with children enrolled in our school was that they wanted a dress code that promotes modesty, prohibits clothing or accessories that would be distracting to the children’s learning environment, and that would be consistently and fairly enforced,” she said. “Our Dress Code implements this parental feedback and in our most recent parent survey, 94 per cent of parents support the dress code, with all but one of the remaining six per cent of parents wanting an even stricter dress code.”

The school declined to be interviewed, choosing to release the statement to parents on their website.

To view a copy of the dress code www.footprintsforlearning.com


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