Laying Rumors to Rest

Principal+Ed+Wagner+and+Vice+Principal+Adam+Stroud+model+their+pajamas.

Courtesy Photo

Principal Ed Wagner and Vice Principal Adam Stroud model their pajama’s.

As a media department, one of the core ethical responsibilities we have is to uphold the truth and maintain accuracy and a recent incident here at school has given us the chance to help set the record straight.

In high school especially, gossip travels quickly. Someone says something and after what may as well be a game of telephone, the original idea or message gets completely twisted and blown out of proportion.

Everyone loves a little drama now and then to keep things interesting, but it is important to know when to draw the line between having a laugh or two and inadvertently advancing harmful rumors.

Last week, somewhat of a controversy broke out within the PHS halls. Word of banned pajama pants and shoes like Crocs managed to circulate throughout the school in a matter of hours. It did not take much longer for the news to reach staff members, moving up the chain until Principal Ed Wagner was informed of the looming issue.

After being absent the last two days of the school week, Wagner returned to PHS to the rumor of dress code policy changes that he was allegedly at the center of. In hopes of clearing up some of the confusion surrounding the situation, our staff sat down for an interview with Wagner.

He was equally as surprised by the dress code speculations as many students were — the actual origin of the rumor a mystery to him.

When asked about possible foundations on which the rumor could have been made, Wagner said he could not be for certain but that it may have come from one of two things.

The first was an incident that took place last year. During a spirit week pajama day, there were problems with students wearing clothing that was deemed inappropriate for school per the student handbook guidelines. As a result, Wagner made the suggestion to dub these days as “comfy” days rather than “pajama” days. The second potential instance was more recent. Before eighth grade students took their field trips to factories this fall, Wagner told them they had to wear close-toed shoes for safety reasons.

I think that your voice is important.”

— Principal Ed Wagner

Even with these hypothetical grounds, Wagner assures that neither the content of the rumor nor how abruptly it emerged is typical of school policy implementation.

“That’s not something that you would put in a dress code policy. A dress code policy is something like certain body parts are not supposed to be exposed. That’s a policy and policies aren’t made on rash decisions,” said Wagner.

On the contrary to how the rumor made it seem, policies are enacted in a regimented process. No one person can impose a new or sudden rule on the school, not even Wagner. Instead, he has to write a policy proposal. From there, Superintendent Greg Walker then reviews it and depending on his judgment of fairness, it can then be passed on to the School Board for a vote to be taken.

It is also important to note that policies that require the changing of the handbook are not altered mid school year. The only exception is when something is matter of student safety and therefore must be addressed as soon as possible.

Otherwise, all school policies, including dress code, are reviewed and subject to change during the summer during the drafting of the student handbook for the upcoming school year. Throughout the year, Wagner and Assistant Principal Adam Stroud keep track of topics that come up as problematic or not clearly defined. Sometime between January and March, the two administrators meet and compile a list of these issues that they feel need tackling. This list is submitted to the School Board around April for discussion ahead of their May agenda.

When it comes to rumors like that of the dress code changes, Wagner stresses the importance of mindfulness. Our staff agrees that it is imperative not to take everything one hears or consumes at face value — especially when it is in reference to polarizing topics like the dress code.

So what are you supposed to do if you encounter a possible rumor? First thing is first: do not spread it. It can be tempting to speculate, but if it is in terms of school policy, when in doubt, ask an administrator.

Although Wagner has not made any plans to change the dress code himself, he is open to suggestions. He acknowledges that things are different now than they were when he was in school and to help account for this, he would like to organize a setting in which faculty and students from each grade level can come together to share their input on the dress code.

“I think that your voice is important,” said Wagner