Taft principal sets goals for academic success


Efforts to improve academic achievement at Taft High School will be the school’s focus now that the school’s dress code has been eliminated, the problem of smoking in bathrooms is under control and student attendance is up, according to principal Mark Grishaber.

“Now we have to increase rigor in the classroom,” Grishaber said after a Sept. 11 community forum on the dress code. After the forum the members of the Taft High School Local School Council agreed to lift the uniform requirement in the dress code.

A 2-week trial period during which the uniform requirement was suspended earlier this month went smoothly, except for a handful of students who wore their pants too low, Grishaber said. “They stuck out like a sore thumb, and security was all over it,” he said.

The uniform portion of the dress code called for students to wear dark pants or jeans and a plain white collared shirt. The uniform policy was instituted in the mid-1990s due to concerns about gangs and inappropriate clothes which some students were wearing.

Under the new code, students can wear any shirt as long as it has sleeves and is not considered offensive, and acceptable pants include sweat pants, jeans, slacks, yoga pants, capris and longer-style shorts, Grishaber said. Sandals are not permitted.

Violators of the new dress code will not be kept out of class but will be issued a detention, Grishaber said. One of the problems of the old dress code was that it required staff members to be “fashion police,” and too much energy was being put into enforcing the code, he said.

Grishaber said that he was impressed with how students answered the dress code committee’s questions at the forum and how the students encouraged others to dress appropriately during the trial period. “They didn’t want to go back to the old way,” he said. “Now we will have a code like that of the high schools in the suburbs and at schools like Northside College Prep.”

When he was chosen as Taft’s new principal in June, Grishaber said that the best way to keep disciplinary problems under control is for students to take ownership of the school.

Last week Grishaber said that students have not been tolerating those who smoke in bathrooms and that smoking inside the school no longer appears to be the problem it once was. Some parents have complained that students were unable to use the school restrooms because there was too much cigarette smoke inside them.

It also was reported that the school’s attendance rate was about 98 percent during the first five days of classes this month. Grishaber said that the rate is up about 6 percentage points from the same period last year.