DLHS: Fargo media sensationalizes dress code

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
Journal Photo/Shinoah Young

The media coverage regarding an incident at a school assembly having to do with the dress code has overshadowed Devils Lake Homecoming festivities this week. However, students continue to enjoy themselves during homecoming. DLHS senior and 17-year-old Paityn Gage [left] and 15-year-old DLHS freshman Cambreigh Schmitz [right] said they both enjoyed dressing up for the Wednesday's "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge day," a part of Homecoming Week at their school [DLHS]. The two students also said that outside media sources [outside of the Lake Region] misinterpreted a dress code policy about yoga pants/leggings this week, causing much unneccesary stir on social media and even on national television. Both Gage and Schmitz told the Journal that their teachers never compared them to prostitutes, a story that KVLY TV reportedly released Monday.

By Shinoah Young

DL Journal Reporter

After an assembly for female students that took place Friday afternoon in DLHS’s gymnasium turned into a social media slash “news-worthy” nightmare, it left the two teachers caught in the middle of all this angst, quite speechless.

But Ryan Hanson [Mr. Hanson], principal at DLHS, thought he was protecting his students by  putting their best interests first when he told the two teachers to speak with all high school, female students to reinforce their high school’s dress code policy regarding “yoga pants, leggings and/or tights.” (taken from DLHS’s Policy handbook under ‘personal appearance p.13-14, also see DLHS’s website.)

“Unfortunately,” said Hanson, “it blew up into an irrefutable controversy - bigger than the DLHS and Devils Lake community was ready for - when a Fargo media source [KVLY TV] caught wind of an ‘alleged tip’ from a source from a whistleblower hotline about the female dress code policy supposedly changing at DLHS, and it became a national story on Monday.”

“The media has perpetuated something that really isn’t an issue,” stated Hanson.

But soon television news reporters and social media networks were buzzing about yoga pants - over alleged rumors [from the Friday dress code assembly] claiming the two DLHS teachers [Mrs. Kadrmas and Mrs. Bodina]  had compared students to prostitutes. All of which the Journal confirmed to be hearsay Wednesday afternoon after speaking with both Phyllis Kadrmas, senior English teacher at DLHS,  Principal Hanson and several DLHS students.

Kadrmas said she showed the girls a clip of a movie where a woman was dressed skimpy and because of that was treated badly by sales people. But when the woman in the movie went back to the same store in a sophisticated outfit the same sales associates were at her beckon call. A total turnaround because her appearance was then percieved as more respectful or tasteful to others.

“It was a stressful thing and I’ve taught a long time and been through a lot of battles,” said Kadrmas, on the rumors and sensationlized clothing controversy. “We just wanted a visual example of the way you dress is - how people percieve you.”

“The amount of energy and effort that’s placed on this could have been used so much more positively,” said Kadrmas. “There’s so many good causes and we’re stuck on yoga pants? Really?”

Even the female students who attended the dress code assembly agreed that this whole yoga pants issue was taken completely out of context. "It's ridiculous," said DLHS senior and 17-year-old Paityn Gage.

Superintendant Scott Privratsky said “First of all it’s about trying to get the correct information out to people.”

The dress code policy never did change, Privratsky confirmed with the Journal Wednesday. “They just have to be appropriately covered.” He compared this outcry from the yoga pants  incident to the mid-1990’s, explaining that back at that time, there were some issues with male students “sagging” down their jeans lower than usual, to show the backside of their boxer shorts.

He said fashion fads come and go but one thing that is a constant is the importance of the well being and protection of students, also reiterated by Principal Hanson.

“We have received several phone calls and several emails thanking us for addressing the appropriate dress attire for students,” added Superintendant Privratsky. He said parents, community members and outside school districts have all contributed to this “aftermath of praise.”

“I had one mother tell me that every school district should be talking about the appropriate way to dress,” said Privratsky.

Principal Hanson also added that DLHS’s policies are actually sought after. A female pastor from Tacoma, Washington even called Hanson recently to request the rights to copy DLHS’s policies and procedures [and all supporting documents]- dress code included.

“Any decision we make, no matter how it’s perceived, is always thinking of the students first,” declared Hanson.

Homecoming week has been going on all week amongst all of the controversy and the Journal will be sure to cover whatever positive events DLHS is hosting for the remainder of the week.

Wednesday was DLHS’s ALS Challenge day, where students wore blue and white to school.

“In the big scheme of things I think this is going to end up being a positive, in the long-run,” said Hanson. “It’s still a great school.”