Each year in May my school staff takes a week in May and reflect on what has gone well, what's not working, and what changes we can make for next year. We break into task forces to address the various changes we need to make. It's a really productive and exciting time.
This week one of the things I brought up as "not working" was our policy on stereotypes and harassment. Those of you who follow this blog know that our teachers are, shall we say, divided on the issue as what is acceptable in a public school. The "policy" our staff has been using so far when an issue comes up is either to ignore the situation, send the kid to me (because Julie's the one who cares about these things), or totally overreact by suspending kids without proper explanation of what they had done wrong.
The task force worked on it and came back with a written policy: Anything that's clearly harassment or stereotypical will be punished. Any "gray area" will be dealt with by the individual teacher who sees it.
That means that, for example, if a kid is wearing something like this * in one teacher's class and I find it inappropriate, I may ask him or her to take it off. However, no other teacher minds, that student may wear it in every other class. This policy absolves our administrators from having to be the bad guy.
*Which, by the way, apparently one of our TEACHERS wore one year for Halloween, complete with PAINTING HIS FACE BLACK.