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Coupeville students told to sheath knives, skin

If a student at Coupeville High School needs to cut an apple or trim a loose string, he or she will no longer be able to use a small pocket knife.

The Coupeville School Board elected to ban knives of any type from the high school in its final review of the student handbook. Under the old rules, students could carry a knife, so long as the blade was less than 1.5 inches long.

“Education never stands still,” Coupeville Superintendent Bill Myhr said. “You try to make adjustments so academic learning is still the focus of the learning environment.”

Myhr said carrying a pocketknife is especially common in a rural community. He said he feels the ban is a preemptive measure.

“The increased fear in school violence has caused a reaction to anything that can be used as a weapon,” Myhr said.

Myhr said he has never heard of an incident involving a knife at the high school while he has been with the district.

Among the other changes are new rules regarding the use of cell phones on campus. The use of a cell phone for the purpose of harassment is now considered unacceptable to the school.

The new rule also provides for punishment if a student is caught taking photos of an exam or other class materials with the digital cameras on most cell phones.

“We wanted to make sure students are using technology in a proper manner,” Myhr said.

According to the new policy, all communication devices must be off during class time. A teacher or staff member can confiscate the device if deemed necessary. Myhr said recent news reports of students harassing other students via cell phones, as well as sending text messages during class, prompted the ban.

Myhr said the district wanted to bring awareness to the issue.

One of the biggest changes in the school’s policies lie in the dress code. The new code bans clothing that is too brief, too tight or too revealing. Under the new rules, any visual display of underwear is unacceptable, as is any clothing that exposes the midriff, which is the middle part of the torso between the abdomen and the chest.

“Certainly the clothing industry doesn’t make it easier on us,” Myhr said. “It’s a balancing act. We’re just trying to put in some specific language so there are guidelines.”

Enforcement of the issue is made all the more difficult when a male teacher is forced to enforce the rules on a female student. Myhr said students should be able to use basic judgement about their clothing choices.

“It basically comes down to common sense,” he said. “We don’t want to get so specific that we’re breaking out a ruler.”

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