Senate pauses bill that would withhold EBF funding over school dress code policies

(The Center Square) – Members of the Senate Education Committee hit the pause button on a bill that would require school district’s to change their dress code policies regarding hairstyles.

An amendment to Senate Bill 817 would prohibit school district dress code policies from applying to hairstyles, including “hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, including, but not limited to, protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists,” according to the text of the amendment. School districts that violate the provisions of the measure would risk losing out on Evidence-Based Funding dollars from the state.

“The schools that do not comply would be subject to withholdings of EBF or Evidence-Based Funding,” State Sen. Mike Simmons said.

The monetary punishment was the reason for debates among lawmakers in the Senate, with many of them disagreeing with provision to withhold funding.

While many of the members agree with the changing of dress code policies, many do not want to withhold funding from schools that could be low-income, to begin with.

State Sen. Melinda Bush said that she “completely agrees with the bill, it’s a great bill and I hope it passes, there is some concern though about the funding mechanism and using EBF as a punishment.”

For SB817 to advance, Senate members would have to come together on a possible punishment other than withholding EBF dollars for schools that do not comply.

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