KPBSD revises proposed graduation adornment policy

The original version of the policy limited how students may decorate their caps, gowns and stoles

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Clayton Holland on Monday clarified a policy being considered by the school board regarding student regalia at school graduations to ensure that it does not restrict how students adorn their commencement attire.

School board members on Monday considered revisions to a policy first introduced by the district last month. That policy limited students’ decoration of their cap, gown or stole to their name and graduating class year, such as “Class of 2024,” and prohibited any other written statements, phrases or slogans. The policy made exceptions for tribal regalia or objects of cultural significance.

The revised policy, also proposed by Holland, deletes the restriction of decorations to a student’s name and graduating class.

Holland said during Monday’s meeting of the school board’s policy committee that his intent in bringing the policy forward was not to restrict what students could or could not wear at graduation.

“The intent of this was never to restrict students, but to make sure it was allowable for students to wear their cultural regalia,” Holland said.

Rather, Holland said the policy was a response to lawsuits in other parts of the United States in which students’ rights to wear cultural regalia at graduation ceremonies have been challenged. Holland said no such suit has been filed within KPBSD, but that the policy should act as a “safeguard.”

“I think it’s important that we have a safeguard in place,” Holland said.

Changes to the policy must pass the full school board before taking effect.

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