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High school cover-up: debate over student dress code

Original post made on May 16, 2013

Tempers were tested at a recent meeting of the local high school district's board of trustees, as one of the governing body's elder statesmen gave a passionate, playful and at times sardonic speech, suggesting calls for stricter enforcement of dress code policy was contributing to "rape culture."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 16, 2013, 10:45 AM

Comments (45)

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Posted by MVHS Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2013 at 11:31 am

The irony of Phil Fallice's statements on preventing rape culture is that these parents were the FIRST to raise that concern via the sexually violent Oracle Cosmo humor article. If anyone has contributed to rape culture on MVHS campus, it is the adults who have applauded this type of journalism and humor in past private and public statements. Fallice is just jumping on the band wagon a little too late and using dress code as his vehicle.

If MVHS is going to have a behavioral policy, it should enforce it...simple as that. If the board wants to get rid of dress code, dance rules, allow students to listen to ipods during instruction time, etc, then they owe it to parents to give us all a heads up and let us and future property owners decide whether we want to support such a school. You can't have rules and then refuse to enforce your own rules. The parents who have brought these issues up aren't asking the school to enforce their personal family rules or standards, but rather to simply enforce the rules and standards that MVHS has created and promised to uphold so that all kids can have the best learning environment possible.


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Posted by High School Parent
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2013 at 11:55 am

Dress codes at high school should be part of the educational program. If they are not taught what is appropriate attire then when will they learn how to dress for jobs. If teachers are dressed professionally and have a dress code (I presume they do) then it is appropriate that the students should also be appropriately dressed for school.

I am not saying that students should dress to the same standard as teachers, but I strongly think that certain rules should be applied and regulated.


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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm

One word: UNIFORMS

That takes care of that.

What's the next problem you all need me to solve?


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Otto, I went to a school with uniforms. The kids were CONSTANTLY trying to get around it or take it to the very limits, and then there were parental complaints that sounded much like this story.
There was no quick fix, but the issue was minimized once strict dress code enforcement began to take place.

If there are existing laws or codes, they are worthless without enforcement. If you don't want to enforce the current code, change it and then enforce it or just enforce the current code. THAT is the best fix, uniforms or not.


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Posted by MVHS Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

This Voice article doesn't really reflect the broader conversation that's taken place over the course of an entire school year. Dress code is one small piece in a larger picture of a school that was suffering from lack of leadership as shown by the many issues that have come before the board- including the grading policy, athletic leadership issues, lack of behavioral policies being enforced, etc.

It's clear by the many changes coming down the pipeline at MVHS that despite rhetoric like that of Mr. Fallice, the board and superintendent see that there are issues at MVHS, and they are working on it.


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Posted by Cold
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I still remember that freezing cold January morning when I saw two students walking to MVHS. One was a boy dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers; the other a girl dressed in low riser shorts, a sleeveless tank top and flip flops. I was concerned about this girl, and other girls that I've seen before and since, who dress so inappropriately for the WEATHER. The bigger question to me is why is fashion trumping all notions of common sense, especially when it comes to girls? The outfits are not much different from the styles worn during the summertime in the '70s. Why are girls choosing to wear summer clothes in winter? Why aren't the boys going shirtless and wearing shorts on those grey, frosty mornings too? It is disturbing to see girls following senseless fashion trends just to follow some greedy marketing gimmick that sells miniature, ripped clothes to teens at exorbitant prices. I think the school should be concerned about that aspect of the dress code as well.


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Posted by Cartman
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm

The problem is that one of the Vice Principals in charge of Discipline wishes he was still one of the students. He picks and chooses who to discipline based on how well he knows them or their families. There is No Consistency at MVHS.


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Posted by Monkey Pants
a resident of Castro City
on May 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Rape culture? Seriously? Sounds like someone needs to get a real job.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I always enjoy reading articles where parents are looking to the school system to do the job that they themselves should be doing. Parent your child as you see fit. Leave parenting my child up to me as I see fit. Once your child leaves your overprotective home, he/she will be forced to be around lots of folks looking or acting in ways that make them feel uncomfortable. Thank goodness for democracy. Teaching tolerance for others in the way they choose to dress is a great thing for our schools to be doing.


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Posted by Prostitute outfits need to go
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I say get the prostitute/rape dress out of the schools. Clothes should cover the body and not in a way that is skin tight or showing skin. Call there parents and tell them to bring decent clothes. Also no pants that show the crack, such low class. What are they thinking?

What is the matter with the parents who allow this? Or is this because most the parents are gone to work before the kids rise? Is this what happens when the mothers are off working. If that is the case, then it's up to the school officials to curb this type of behavior.

No wonder our education system is flunking, not because there is not enough money, but because all eyes and mind are focused on some pretty ho bag. Who can think or learn when there is such distraction.

Is this what our publics schools have become to? Parents, if you can afford it, send your kids to private schools, since our public schools are out of control.

If they want to dress like prostitutes let them, but on their own time, not during school time.


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Posted by Shelley
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Mr. Faillace comes across as nothing but a one-sided bully in this article. Imagine how much worse (and condescending) he must have sounded in person.

In addition, I am heartily disagree with this reporter's statement "In February, the issue exploded after the Oracle published a series of articles under the banner "Sex and Relationships." Parents were incensed -- calling on district administrators to censor the Oracle and censure the paper's adviser, MVHS teacher Amy Beare."

I was at that meeting, along with about 20 other parents. Apparently coming together as a group and presenting our concerns through organized, thoughtfully worded presentations has now been translated to 'explosive, incensed and calling for censure'. WRONG!!!

The school has written guidelines (that include code of ethics, dress code and behavior policy) that they REQUIRE both the students AND the parents to sign and return to the school at the beginning of every school year. As long as they continue to require MY signature, I will require that the administration, from the secretaries to the superintendents, do their job and ENFORCE the rules and guidelines.


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Posted by MVHS parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I agree with Ms Hanson, Reed, and Robinson on some of their concerns about behavior at MVHS and would like to know how to get in touch with them and add my support about these issues.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Slater
on May 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm

This discussion is certainly a target rich environment. I suspect that Mr. Faillace enjoys the girls running around half naked based on his own words "Faillace, who noted that when he was in high school sex was ever present in his thoughts". I do know that our MV City Council has strict guidelines regarding smirks, giggles, the rolling of eyes etc. when citizens address the council. Certainly, the behavior exhibited by Mr. Faillace would not be tolerated at the City Council, why is it then allowed at the School Board meetings? Where is the authority in the schools these days? Who sets the good example? I am a product of California public education. My male teachers wore coats and ties, and the female teachers wore dresses, good luck finding that on campus today.


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Posted by Topic Selection
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

It appears the next item on the board agenda that evening was a report from both high schools on the extensive list of programs to help At Risk students.

Will the Voice be reporting on that?


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Posted by SLB
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Interesting. Seems parents might be concerned about there young peoples ability to get and hold a job where there is a dress code. I work in a place where you have to dress conservatively and appropriately to meet the public.

Schools teaching that the world is not all about your personal freedom might be an important concept. School is the work of young people, and they should be expected to dress appropriately. Creativity within the bounds of the rules seems reasonable at a high school level.

If they have rules, they should enforce them or change them.


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Posted by Blunt
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Its so simple: Enforce the rules or change them....DO IT!!


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 16, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Two words: "School Spirit"

Everyone's happier with scantily clad ladies


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Posted by Polish Sausage
a resident of Gemello
on May 16, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Studies have shown time and again that both students and teachers are less engaged in environments with strict dress codes. To restrict what they wear would be to rob them of their future.


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Posted by College
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

College (where 97% of MVLA graduates will be going) is more closely linked to the timing when these students will have professional jobs. How are the dress codes in college?


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Posted by Charlie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Many good comments.
But!
Isn't proper dress like respect for others, accountability and not using foul language the responsiblility of parents in the home environment?


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Posted by Wo\'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

Both the students and the school administrators should show more respect for those who are in authority over them: the parents! No more ridiculing of the parents who care enough to be involved and vigilant.


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Posted by cartman
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 17, 2013 at 7:40 am

@College, 97% are you kidding?


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Posted by MVHS parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 17, 2013 at 8:57 am

One problem that I have not seen addressed at all is where to buy clothes that meet the dress code. My daughter is very modest, BUT, you cannot go into a clothing store and buy shorts that are long enough to satisfy the dress code.

I do not agree with the ideas that the Oracle article was cultivating "rape culture" or drug use. Everyone read those articles with their own views already in place. You wanted to see things that were not there.


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Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Mountain View Voice Editor
on May 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate thread that has now been closed:

When my son was at Los Altos High in 2006, the dress code was very simple: 1. No underwear may be visible. 2. Students must wear underwear.
by Dani May 17, 2013 at 2:56 am


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Posted by College
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 17, 2013 at 11:29 am

Cartman - No, not kidding. Those are the numbers. I believe it's roughly 65-70% to 4 year colleges, and roughly 25-30% to JCs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nick V
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on May 17, 2013 at 11:32 am

Nick V is a registered user.

@TopicSelection: Yes! We will be reporting on that. It's on my list of stories to cover this week.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Diversity
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm

A diverse community needs a diversity of clothing styles. Trying to suppress this is yet another attack on our freedoms. It sounds like yet again a handful of parents are trying to reduce diversity and freedom and should be strongly rebuffed.

Faillace had it right..respect the expression, but not necessarily the opinion.


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Posted by ME
a resident of North Whisman
on May 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Too many parents want to be "friends"" with their high school children. When they don't set a good example to their children in the early years, they wonder why their children lack respect for them and ignore their pleas when they become teenagers. Teenagers need to feel a sense of accomplishment in something....good parents know this and encourage their child. Accomplished children often don't feel the need to "follow the crowd." Some high school girls don't have the confidence to ignore fashion trends, so they follow the 'in' crowd and dress like sluts!


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Posted by Rules are not all enforced
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

We are awash in laws and rules which thankfully are enforced judiciously...trust the administrators to decide which battles to fight., they can't fight them all.
It's either naive or hypocritical to claim it's just about having the rules enforced.

Some of the commentators sound like they would fit right in with the Taliban. Whose going to be first to propose we stone the sluts, dunk the witches... if they sink their dress was okay.

Re girls dress code, it's time to move off blaming the victim, period. It's the ultimate expression of paternal misogyny.

Dont' put the [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] moms on a pedestal for getting involved - sounds like they need to pony up for private school if they dont feel their kids can handle the distraction or temptation.

There are plenty of constructive ways to get involved at school without leading a crusade against the school board.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

@ MVHS Parent

"If MVHS is going to have a behavioral policy, it should enforce it...simple as that. If the board wants to get rid of dress code, dance rules, allow students to listen to ipods during instruction time, etc, then they owe it to parents to give us all a heads up and let us and future property owners decide whether we want to support such a school. You can't have rules and then refuse to enforce your own rules. The parents who have brought these issues up aren't asking the school to enforce their personal family rules or standards, but rather to simply enforce the rules and standards that MVHS has created and promised to uphold so that all kids can have the best learning environment possible. "

I agree with you. If we are going to have rules, they need to be enforced and respected. What this teaches kids is that rules are not that important and one need not worry about them. Maybe some will think drinking and driving rules are not important enough to follow. The message the school is sending is very clear and a disturbing one.
Shame on the adults at that school. These are kids, not adults and you are entrusted to teach them.



T


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Posted by Former student
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

Schools are supposed to be a place to learn reading, writing, math, science and other academic subjects.

High school students want to get noticed and may go to any extreme to wear clothing, makeup and hair styles to get attention.

When clothing becomes a distraction from the educational process, rules should be made and enforced.


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Posted by PV Resident
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I went to high school where there was a uniform. My parents bought the uniform and I was expected to wear it.

What my parents didn't realize was that on the way to school my neat appearance changed drastically to whatever I could do to still wear what the school insisted on and doing my own thing.

In other words, the parents can only monitor how the kids leave the house. The school monitors what they will allow on campus. If shorts are too short, if pants are sagged, it is up to the school to inform the students that their dress is not appropriate (by calling the parents and getting the parents to bring in more appropriate attire) or making the students wear pe clothes.

Learning what is appropriate to wear to school teaches what is appropriate to wear to a job even if it is only at 7 - 11 or the local pizza place. For kids who are not able to dress appropriately for school, they don't realize what is appropriate attire to go looking for work. High school is a place where getting an after school job to pay for clothes and entertainment make sense.


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Posted by former MV resident
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Sounds like there needs to be a staff shake down @ MVHS!!!!! I am SOOOO glad we homeschooled our girls! They are extremely respectful, morally sound, and much better socialized than the average public school student. Oh, and colleges love them!


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Posted by Cold
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 20, 2013 at 7:56 am

"If the board wants to get rid of dress code, dance rules, allow students to listen to ipods during instruction time, etc, then they owe it to parents to give us all a heads up and let us and future property owners decide whether we want to support such a school." - I agree, Political Insider.

I also agree with PV that you cannot put all the blame and responsibility for this on the parents. Kids are kids and they want to fit in with their peers. The school is responible for setting the standards of conduct, which includes the dress code.

On another note - I disagree with those who use blatant bragging as a way of contributing to a community discussion. Modesty applies not only to clothes...


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Posted by Hmm
a resident of North Whisman
on May 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm

How come the idea farm guy hasn't posted anything racist or sexist yet?


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of North Whisman
on May 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I think we all need to step back and take a deep breath.

I agree that rules should either be enforced or dropped; let's at least show kids that adults believe in honesty.

But I mostly want to say that our teachers and administrators are better focused on teaching a wide diversity of students while hobbled by national testing, bureaucratic rules, limited funds, and a political school district. Let them get back to their core function! It's not policing skirt and sleeve length...it's teaching! We parents should pick up the other issues.


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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 21, 2013 at 11:07 am

Oh please.. enough with the home schooling comments. Home schooling doesn't make kids more respectful, better socialized, or "morally sound" (whatever that means).

Parents do all of that. If you see a kid disrespecting adults.. look to the parents. If you see a kid with bad manners.. look to the parents.

Kids get their moral compass from their parents as well.

Stop blaming schools for not doing what parents should be doing. Parents should be raising their children to be good neighbors and citizens.

That's not the job of teachers in school.


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Posted by Robin
a resident of Castro City
on May 21, 2013 at 11:13 am

@Rules are not all enforced:

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]
Why bring up their religion?

How is a slur on one's religion tolerated by the editors? It must be open season on Mormons in MV.


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Posted by neighboring city parent
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hi, I am a parent from a neighboring city. I happened to pick up The Voice and read this article. I am SO amazed at the rudeness and incorrect beliefs, judgement, and actions of the LA-MV School Board on the subject of decency in school. My point would be this is SCHOOL, you are dealing with MINORS, it is not ENTERTAINMENT/PARTY TIME.
I hope the three mothers who expressed concerns will read this and know there are intelligent people out there who share their concerns about reasonable dress in school and behaviors at school dances and during the school day. I sympathize with these caring mothers.
It has NOTHING to do with being prudish or judgmental.
School is "like work" for young persons who spend the majority of their time in school, and provocative and/or unsuitable dress is...unsuitable and distracting. It MAY lead to poor behavioral choices of either sex, choices they may regret later or that may injure someone.
Sexualizing anyone under age 18 is a bad idea and Abercrombie & Fitch = an example of an unfortunate influence on today's youth.
Children (under age 18) are MINORS, not self-supporting adults who can choose their dress, for better or for worse, in the workplace and/or college.
-from a parent of young adults


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Posted by Why do they make these choices?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm

The question I would like all to ponder is.... why do girls choose to show up at school in attention grabbing clothes ?
Everyone makes judgements but the appropriate response is probably to intervene with counseling - do they know they will attract attention ? Do they understand the impression that they are creating?
Do their parents know that they are dressed that way ?

Lots of outrage which seems to be coming from those worried about the distraction or "bad decisions" their own children may be tempted into. Let's all show a little compassion and have some concern for the girls exhibiting classic signs of low self esteem. They are minors too and this is a perfect chance to help them...not punish them.


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Posted by Seriousness
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm

With college admissions so competitive these days, it's no wonder these girls dress like sexualized teeny boppers with low self esteem. Because while their classmates distracted by their ~skin~ (my gosh, what a novelty), these students can push ahead in their studies.

Therefore, the school should instate gingham jumpers that extend to the ankle for all females - nay, for all males as well. Because if we're going to target dress code of all the harsh problems these high schools face (in lieu of retention rates or at risk students) we had better be thorough.

When you continue to emphasize and highlight these quasi problems, the message that you are sending is that this is what you believe matters. Never mind your child's budding mind, or the connections she's built with her friends at school. Never mind that the tank top wearing, short shorts wearing girl that you saw walking down the street might have been your child's tutor for algebra 2. What sickens me about this entire "controversy" is that there is a gross oversimplification of these girls that wear these clothes - which aren't even that bad. It's that implication that because they show their legs, or their lower backs, or god forbid their belly buttons - they must be bad influences, they must be bad people, they must be bad students and we can not have them interacting with our children.

Seriously parents? This is what you spend your time worrying about? If you want things to worry about, spend more time analyzing city budget data - or even the state budgetary and fiscal policy. Those are real, more tangible problems.


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Posted by MVHS student and, by your definitions, a "slut"
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Absolutely appalled by the article but even more so by some of the comments.
I was not aware that wearing shorts on a hot day, aka "prostitute clothes," made me a slut. Why sexualize skin? Look past whatever we may (or may not) be wearing on the surface. I have a 4.5 weighted GPA and a job which apparently do not matter as long as I look like a hooker and am written off as an attention seeking girl with low self esteem. I guess I also would never make it in the real world because I don't understand dress codes.


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Posted by MVHS Student
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm

As a student at MVHS, I am never disappointed by the thoughtful comments our trusty parent community provides. For those of you who want uniforms, go pay for your uniforms- we have St. Francis, Bellarmine, SHP, a wide array of privates to choose from. The question, "where will my child learn to dress for a job?" is astounding..teach your kid to tie a damn tie. For those of you who are criminalizing a girl wearing shorts, please, PLEASE think before you sit down at your keyboard. And the notion that showing skin is now a distraction? Parents, if your sons can't contain themselves because a girl is wearing a brightly colored t-shirt, Bellarmine is the place to be! The main issue here is that you chose to go to a private school, and beyond obscenity there really shouldn't be restrictions on the dress code. Teach your kids some decent manners, learn how to parent, or next time throw on a rubber.


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Posted by MVHS Student
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm

At the meeting regarding the Oracle article, Ms. Hanson described herself as "the most hated mother at the school," and now she's arguing that she's being disrespected by a board member. It's interesting that when someone questions her arguments, she acts like a victim rather than defending her point. She needs to realize that because the points she's bringing up are controversial, there will always be backlash. I may disagree with what she's saying, but it's not like I hate her for saying it!


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Posted by MVHS Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 29, 2013 at 2:54 am

Thanks, MVHS Student, you've obviously got the whole world figured out and are ready to go out in the world and be successful! However, some where down the road you just might run into older, more educated and more experienced people in your career path (maybe even your future employer) that might disagree with you. Your sense of appropriateness might even be questioned! But I have no doubt you will be ready to answer them back! Good luck with that.


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