PAYETTE — After his first survey brought students’ displeasure with the Payette School District’s 2019-20 dress code to the attention of the Board of Trustees, McCain Middle School All-Student Body President Cody Smithies is preparing to launch an expanded survey. This time around, he is inviting members of the community to take part in the survey.
In an interview with the Independent-Enterprise on Jan. 27, Cody, an eighth-grader, explained why he took up the cause in the first place:
“After I heard about the little walkout that half [a social studies] class had … I was just at my house after that thinking ‘What can I do about it?’” said Cody. “I was thinking, ‘maybe I could do a school-wide survey on the dress code,’ and see how they like it.”
After discussing the idea with his vice president Hayden Mordhorst, the two decided the survey should be conducted online. The survey was presented first to fellow students at McCain before the survey caught the attention of other Payette schools.
Cody’s father, Steven Smithies, was also present for the interview. He said he supports his son in the cause, because of the dress code’s impact on Payette families.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Smithies. “We weren’t swayed by the dress code one way or the other, but after the situation at school and Cody deciding to look into it further, he did find out that it did make a hardship on several families in the community.”
Part of the hardship he noted was the cost and availability of clothes that meet dress code. Shirts and jackets can only be solid red, white, gray or black. Stripes and patterns are not currently permitted.
Smithies said Superintendent Robin Gilbert’s response to the findings Cody presented at the Jan. 13 Board of Trustees meeting didn’t sound right to him. He said the district has been slow to hear complaints.
“She made light of the whole situation,” said Smithies, who is involved with the Payette parent organization ‘Pirate Parents.’ Steven said Gilbert hadn’t spoken to anyone from Pirate Parents when he asked them. “They said she has not talked to any of them … This is probably the biggest parent group that I know if here in Payette, that is concerned with the students and schools.”
Cody said several of his teachers are helping him with not only the surveys themselves, but also with how to address the school board about the topic.
The survey will be completely anonymous and does not require an email address to participate, according to Cody. Like the first survey distributed at schools, the survey will ask participants what they do and don’t like about the dress code.
“I don’t think there are … very many teachers that really support this whole dress code thing,” Smithies noted, saying that he is working to get an action item on the Board’s agenda.
Cody noted that his survey has piqued the whole District’s interest.
“Mr. Hale told me that when they had [their] administrators’ meeting, he had also brought up the idea of my survey. And he said all of the principals liked the idea,” Cody added.
The survey is in the process of being made available to the public, pending further student input requested by McCain Principal Rick Hale.
We’ll keep following the story.