News

‘Holy’ earlobes draw scrutiny from trustees

RHS body piercing policy due more study


COOL IDEA—For the second straight year the annual Rockdale Open’s youth division of its tourney was played mostly at night on the Veterans Park courts. The after-dark scheduling was a resounding hit with participants and spectators alike, who dodged afternoon temperatures near triple digits and enjoyed firstrate tennis action under the stars. See results, pages 1C-2C. 
Reporter/Mike Brown COOL IDEA—For the second straight year the annual Rockdale Open’s youth division of its tourney was played mostly at night on the Veterans Park courts. The after-dark scheduling was a resounding hit with participants and spectators alike, who dodged afternoon temperatures near triple digits and enjoyed firstrate tennis action under the stars. See results, pages 1C-2C. Reporter/Mike Brown Holes in student earlobes and how to accommodate them—or not—resulted in a lively discussion by RISD trustees Monday.

Meeting in regular session in the Central Administration Building, some board members took exception with a section in the proposed high school handbook allowing body piercings under certain circumstances.

Several trustees voiced opposition, but others were unsure how such a ban could be enforced without refusing instruction.

Also Monday, trustees tabled for more information consideration of a sweeping teacher pay schedule after board president

Lee Jenkins noted the plan they’ve been studying for several months apparently did not provide any salary increases for teachers with service between 19 and 21 years.

HOLES—Principal Joey Geletka presented the proposed RHS handbook for 2013-14 to trustees and noted there is new language in the dress code, generated by students.

He said ear piercings have now expanded to holes in earlobes ranging in size from the width of a pencil up to quarter-sized, to accommodate jewelry called “plugs” or “gauges.”


EARLY ‘WELCOME ABOARD’—Newly named RISD Interim Supt. Donald Denbow (seated) greets school trustee Mike Pruett prior to Monday’s board meeting in the Central Administration Building. Denbow sat in on the regular July monthly session. A former superintendent of the Corsicana ISD, he will officially start his duties in Rockdale on Aug. 19. 
Reporter/Mike Brown EARLY ‘WELCOME ABOARD’—Newly named RISD Interim Supt. Donald Denbow (seated) greets school trustee Mike Pruett prior to Monday’s board meeting in the Central Administration Building. Denbow sat in on the regular July monthly session. A former superintendent of the Corsicana ISD, he will officially start his duties in Rockdale on Aug. 19. Reporter/Mike Brown As a safety concern, Geletka said guidelines call for those holes to be filled with something.

“ The thinking is that those large holes are easy targets to get hold of and could cause substantial injury,” he said. “We’d rather have it filled.”

“I personally don’t like it (piercing),” Jenkins said. “Do we have much of that?”

“We have more than you would think,” Geletka replied. He later estimated about 20 RHS students currently have body piercings.

Board member Kent Bowermon agreed with Jenkins, saying he could see the new guidelines starting a precedent. “(Students could think) we can go out and get it done and then if enough of us do it, it’s not against the rules any more.”

ENFORCEMENT—Trustee Lin Perry said he personally did not like piercings but asked how such a ban could be enforced given the permanent nature of the body alteration.

“Are you going to tell them they can’t come to school if they have that (piercing)?” Perry asked. “Once it’s done, it’s done forever.”

Perry noted other restrictions can be more easily enforced.

“If you tell me my hair’s too long, I can go get it cut tomorrow,” he said.

Board members also considered the possibility of “distraction” in the classroom from body piercings and jewelry.

Jenkins said he would like to see facial hair “go away” along with piercing.

Trustees noted that the school’s athletics handbook prohibits facial hair.

Geletka emphasized the new language is primarily viewed as a safety issue. “Being able to see through someone’s ear is a scary concept,” he said. “If there’s a fight and someone puts a finger in that earlobe hole and pulls half an ear off then you’ve got a bigger problem.”

Jenkins said he felt a solution could be worked out with language giving the principal more discretion to determine “what is too much.”

Administrators were directed to work on revisions to the guidelines and report back to the board at a later date.

SALARIES— Approval of a teacher salary schedule, and district compensation plan, was on the agenda but trustees tabled the matter for more work by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) which compiled the document, designed to bring RISD pay into line with similar districts.

“I thought it was our intention that everyone get a pay raise,” Jenkins said. “I don’t believe teachers with 19-21 years experience get one. Years 19 and 20 actually go down and year 21 stays the same.”

Trustee Michelle Lehmkuhl said she didn’t see any merit pay in the proposal.

The board decided to schedule a workshop with TASB representatives to work on the plan.

Marla Wallace, chief financial officer, said funds for the plan are in the 2013-14 budget.

In other business, trustees:

• Accepted the resignation of intermediate school physical education teacher Trey Young.

• Hired Erica Saegert as a fourth-grade teacher, Cynthia Azua as a social studies teacher and Gary Riley as a Spanish teacher.


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