TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Safety and security were the basis for the new plan, according to Jeff Collum, Collum is director of student services for T.I.S.D., and for the past 8 weeks, he's served as the interim principal of John Tyler High School.
"We looked at academic programming needs, attendance rate, discipline, and felt like ninth graders would benefit from the academy setting," he explained.
This fall, freshmen will be separated from upperclassmen. Collum said the move will help the younger students transition to high school life. The smaller groups will help teachers and administrators increase academic focus and improve discipline.
Everyone will be required to follow a new, standardized dress code: khakis, polos and oxfords will create a sense of consistency, said Collum.
The dress code is already in place at Tyler middle schools. Collum said it will also improve the learning climate at John Tyler.
"If we have to, constantly, pull kids out of class to deal with [dress code] violations, they're losing class time instruction," he said. "Our goal as educators is to try to leave students in the classroom as much as possible."
"I don't think that enforcing a dress code where everyone dresses alike is going to enhance education, nor safety at the school," said Wilma Daniel-Mitchell.
Mitchell said her grandson is finishing up his first year at John Tyler.
"You need to enforce what you already have," she said.
Mitchell and her neighbors live in the neighborhood immediately behind the John Tyler campus.
A fence already surrounds part of the 90 acre campus, but a new one is slated to go up this summer, part of the new plan. A portion of the fence will be made of brick and wrought iron, but another part will be a chain link fence with angled wire on top.
Collum said the fence will help better monitor who comes and goes during the school day. He said it will also deter intruders from entering the campus.
Mitchell said it sends the wrong message.
"We do know that John Tyler's population is majority, minority," she said. "Are we preparing them to go out into the real world, or are we preparing them to wear orange suits and be behind barbed wire fences in prison?"
"Enough is enough, and too much stinks," said June Warren. She has two students at John Tyler.
"Parents need to be a little more involved, and they need to take on a little more responsibility for their kids," she said.
"We feel like we have a very important mission at John Tyler," said Collum. "We want every student to feel like their focus is to worry about learning."
The district hopes to have a new principal in place, this fall, too. Candidates have been interviewed, and the selection process is nearly complete.
The district is also considering putting in a perimeter fence around Robert E. Lee High School in south Tyler.
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