WALLINGFORD — After receiving feedback from teachers in the district regarding the schools’ hat/hood regulation, Board of Education members worked together at Monday night’s instructional committee meeting to alter the regulation to say that students could not wear hoods in the schools.
This regulation will be on the consent agenda for the board’s meeting on Dec. 19.
The regulation was originally approved by the Board of Education on April 25 and states that “hats and other headwear must allow the face and ears to be visible to staff and not interfere with the line of sight of any student or staff. Hoodies must allow the face and ears to be visible to school staff.”
While board members shared that they received various emails from teachers regarding the current enacted hat/hood regulation, Board Chairperson Tammy Raccio said central office administrators advised the board that there has been no discipline issues or office referrals during this school year at any of the 12 Wallingford Public Schools that has to do with hat or hood wearing.
“It is concerning that some of the emails we got suggested that it takes the teachers 10 minutes to get a class under control because of hats and hoodies but they never made an office referral?” Raccio said.
“We also did receive emails from teachers saying, ‘I don’t have a problem with the hats and hoodies. The students are respectful and I have good classroom management and if I tell them to take it off, they take it off.’ ”
School Superintendent Danielle Bellizzi also said she has not seen any issues when she has made her rounds through the schools. However, she pointed out that things can always happen in the classroom when she isn't there.
“As we’ve been on our walk-through’s at all the different levels we have not experienced it being a disruption to the learning on our walk-throughs, so those have been the experiences that we’ve had,” Bellizzi said. “I am not 100% obviously as to what happens when we’re not there, but on our experiences, no we have not.”
During the discussion, Michael Votto, vice chairperson of the instructional committee, brought up the fact that with the current regulation stating that “hoodies must allow the face and ears to be visible to school staff,” teachers can’t spend their time in the classroom walking around checking that every hood is tucked behind their students’ ears.
“I think it took teachers long enough maybe to finally say, ‘Enough is enough. We’re going crazy trying to keep these hoods behind their ears,’” Votto said.
“If enough of our teachers wrote the board with a concern, we have a right to listen to our teachers. We work in collaboration with them and if they had the gumption to let the board know there was a problem with hoods and they want us to know about it and if you could please rethink the policy, we have a right to listen to them and rethink it.”
Jennifer Passaretti, chairperson of the instructional committee, recommended that the Board of Education change the second sentence of the regulation to say that students who are wearing hooded sweatshirts must do so with the hood down while in a school building. No changes will be made to the hat regulation.
Carrie LaTorre, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said she will fine tune the language for the updated regulation.
The full school board voted unanimously in favor sending the changed hood regulation to get added to the consent agenda at the Dec. 19 regular board of education meeting.
Board member Kathy Castelli said she applauds the teachers for reaching out.
“I apologize to every teacher that has had any issues with this policy because we put it in place,” Castelli said.