Education

The Troy Independent School District’s Board of Trustees will discuss its student dress code and the process used to review it during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Troy High School Commons.

“The meeting will provide the board an opportunity to listen to the community, and the transparency to publicly discuss the student dress code and the review process,” Troy ISD Superintendent Neil Jeter told the Telegram on Monday.

Jeter — who noted how the meeting also will be available for viewing via Zoom at bit.ly/3vDEzYW — said a district committee formally reviews its dress code every three years.

“The current dress code was reviewed and implemented prior to the 2018-19 school year and is due for formal review prior to the 2021-22 school year,” he said. “In keeping with past practice, the District Student Dress Code Committee will consist of students, parents/caregivers, and district staff members who characterize the local community.”

Jeter said trustees and administrators were asked to submit names of individuals willing to serve on the committee.

Although the Troy ISD superintendent said his district aims to implement its dress code “equitably,” he referenced how some policies vary for boys and girls.

“Over the years, Texas courts have upheld locally developed dress codes that differentiate dress and groom standards based on gender,” Jeter said. “There are court cases and even legislation pending that could affect dress code decisions in the future. The district will comply with future legislation and applicable court rulings.”

In April, Troy ISD was at the height of a local controversy when Maddox Cozart, an 11-year-old boy, was placed in in-school suspension for 12 days for his choice of hair styling.

Maddox, a Raymond Mays Middle School sixth-grader, is biracial. His father is black and Maddox decided to explore the different hairstyles that many black men wear.

“A lot of kids express themselves in their culture through their hair. By having these rules in your dress code, it makes it hard for anybody to be an individual and to express their culture without being disciplined for it,” Hope Cozart, Maddox’s mother, said at a Troy ISD board meeting on April 23.

However, she told the Telegram that campus administrators reversed their decision during school later that week.

“He went to ISS for a little bit but then they pulled him out after three separate people examined his hair … which was just the braids and the bun in the back ... just like normal,” Cozart said. “They said because it laid down in the back that it was OK. But if it does not continue to lie down in the back, he will be placed in ISS. So no changes have truly been made.”

The Troy ISD dress code — adopted by the Troy school board members — currently prohibits boys in grades 2-12 from wearing pony tails, top knots, buns or similar styles. It remains in effect during summer school and at all school-related events and activities outside of the school year until an updated version becomes effective for the next school year.

“The district welcomes collaboration with local stakeholders in reviewing the student dress code based on community standards while also considering current legal standards,” Jeter said.