ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A pair of freshmen from Bartram Trail High School who were among 83 girls whose yearbook photos were digitally altered to cover parts of their bodies will now join several others on a newly formed dress code committee for the St. Johns County school district.
The mother of Riley O'Keefe tells First Coast News that Riley, along with Zoe Iannone and Zoe's mother are three of the people who will serve on the committee. The three are well known for powerful speeches given at last month's school board workshop, during which the board announced proposed changes to the dress code for the 2021 through 2022 school year.
Riley and Zoe both wore the same outfit they wore in their yearbook photos to speak at the school board workshop. The photos were censored without permission, despite the fact that the girls say teachers told them their outfits met dress code requirements.
The members of the committee are:
- Riley O’Keefe, Bartram Trail student
- Zoe Iannone, Bartram Trail student
- Paul Abbatinozzi, Senior Director School Services
- Jay Willets, Principal of Tocoi Creek High School
- Laura Barkett, LMHC, NCC, District Social Worker
- Amanda Garman, Principal of R. B. Hunt Elementary School
- Traci Hemingway, Principal of Liberty Pines Academy (k-8)
- Christina Langston, Chief of Community Relations
- John Highsmith, Dean of Students, Creekside High School
- Yanetta Arnold, Dean of Students, Pedro Menendez High School
- Patrick Canan, School Board Chair
- Kyle Dresback, Associate Superintendent Student Services
For months, students and parents have been asking the district to make changes to the dress code policy which has been labeled sexist and discriminatory.
Changes proposed at last month's meeting include the following:
- Remove the term "modest"
- Define the term "distracting"
- Remove 4-inch measurement requirement for skirts/shorts
- Recommends "not any shorter than fingertip length or mid-thigh, whichever is shorter"
- Remove standards on basis of gender
But some parents say, those proposed changes are not enough.
"The proposed changes are a slap in the face to every single female student in St. Johns County," one mother of two girls at Bartram Trail High School told the school board last month. She suggested the school board form a committee to avoid rushing to any changes to the county's dress code, allowing for time to hold town halls and receive feedback from the public.
We have reached out to the district to get more information about the newly formed committee.
The next school board meeting is June 8, and that is when the board is expected to vote on recommended revisions to the district’s dress code policy.
Meanwhile, parents may request a new, unedited version of the yearbook free of charge. Parents much fill out a form sent to their e-mail and return their current copy of the yearbook by June 11 to receive the new yearbook.
The new yearbook will be paid for by the company, not the school or district.
Parents with questions should email Parker Raimann at firstname.lastname@example.org.