Revere High Students Want to Change School Hat Policy

If a student wears a head wrap, a headband, a hijab, a do-rag, a baseball cap, a beanie or scarf really impact teaching and learning at area schools?

Well, a group of ambitious young students at Revere High School are looking to revisit the Revere School’s policy on the wearing of ‘headgear’ through a pilot program and see if they can make a change to a policy they feel is outdated.

At last week’s School Committee meeting two Revere High School students, Sofia Garcia and Sayed Karajh, made their case for launching a pilot program and study to see if the school hat policy is antiquated.

The current school dress code states, “No student should wear headgear of any sort in the school building except for religious purposes as directed by school personnel for safety purposes, for special events, or activities where permission is given by the appropriate administrator.”

Garcia pointed out that school hat policies emerged in the 1990s out of fear of gang affiliation and safety but questioned whether applies to the modern day.

“Many schools in our modern society have expanded what ‘headgear; means and is defined as,” said Garcia. “In fact some schools have been criticized for bias against kids who wear certain types of headgear to express themselves.”

The students approached RHS Principal Dr. John Perella with a plan.

While Perella took it upon himself to check with 11 neighboring school districts to get feedback on their hat policies, the students were busy working on putting together a proposal for the School Committee.

“Dr. Parella found seven schools don’t have enforcement policies while only four had strict policies,” said Garcia. “Common headgear being allowed in some schools are head wraps, head bands, hijab, do-rag, baseball caps, beanies and scarfs.”
The students brought their issue to the RHS’s School Improvement Team, conducted three formal focus groups and found that 46 teachers would support a pilot program to investigate changing the school’s hat policy.

“Since there is fear that hats will lead to negative impact on discipline, education and the overall culture of schools we have decided we would launch a pilot at RHS (only),” said Garcia.

After the pilot program concludes the school administrators will review end of the year data to identify if there were any negative behavioral or educational impacts

“If the pilot is successful and no negative impacts were found we would submit a change to the 2019-2020 school handbook,” said Garcia.

Karajh argued that research shows that wearing hats has no negative impact on learning.

“College and other training programs allow students wear whatever they want,” he said. “It’s not fair to say a girl can wear a headband but a boy can’t. It’s not fair to say one type of headgear is okay bit another is not. The policy restricts our sense of style and discovery of who we are and who we want to be. High school is not only about education but a place to discover ourselves and find out who we really are. We want to have a voice in the rules and speak out when we want to see change.”

Perella said the change to the hat policy is something that has been brought up to school administrators in many forms and thinks it makes ‘a lot of sense’ to try the pilot program.

“Will it impact education or learning? We don’t believe it will,” he said.

The two students received praise from School Committee members like Stacy Rizzo for their thoughtful presentation.

“I’m impressed by your ability to take a subject, research it and bring it before us,” said Rizzo.

School Committee Vice Chair Carol Tye also applauded the presentation but made a motion to refer the pilot program request to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.

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