School disputes TV report, says no Legacy students suspended for hugs, in trouble for high-fives

Nov 19 2010 - 11:21pm

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LAYTON -- Legacy Junior High School recently came under fire in a TV news report concerning its policy on public displays of affection. That policy, which is not new, has been around since the school opened two years ago, says Principal Kenneth Hadlock.

And nothing has changed in the policy either, which is similar to policies in other Davis schools and schools across the state, officials said.

The TV news report said students have been suspended for hugging at school and there have been crackdowns on high-fives.

Hadlock said no student has been suspended for hugs. And as for high-fives?

"Can you imagine an environment without high-fives?" Hadlock said. "It's absolutely absurd to say we said you can't high-five each other."

The student handbook, which is given to students when they register, says on Page 6 that, as part of their citizenship grade, serious negative behavior can result in a "U" or suspension if administrators believed the behavior warranted it.

The definition of negative behavior includes more than four tardies, disrespect to school staff, using vulgarity or profanity, cheating, and public displays of affection such as hugging, kissing or holding hands.

Hadlock said the policy is the same policy that was used at Kaysville Junior High, where he was a principal for 15 years.

Davis High School has a similar policy, said Principal Dee Burton.

"Kids can't give prolonged hugs," Burton said. "Kids do give hugs, but if it is romantic in nature, we put a stop to that. High-fives are definitely allowed."

Burton said high-fives are done daily in Davis High School's hallways not only between students but between students and staff.

Burton said policies on public displays of affection have been around for as long as he has been an administrator. Burton was an assistant principal at Layton High School and also at Syracuse High School, each of which have similar policies.

Davis School District does not have a policy concerning public displays of affection, said Christopher Williams, the district's community relations director. "It is left up to the individual schools to create their own."

The district does have a policy concerning sexual harassment pertaining to students. Students are prohibited from sexually harassing another student, and unwanted hugs could be considered as sexual harassment, according to the policy.

Williams said, to his knowledge, no student in the district has ever been suspended for giving hugs.

They may have been called to the school's administrative office "because kids will push the envelope," he said.

Davis schools are not alone in having policies banning public displays of affection.

Weber schools have their own policies concerning public displays of affection, said Nate Taggart, community relations director with Weber School District.

Ogden School District has a districtwide policy concerning public display of affection, said Donna Corby, district spokeswoman. The policy is included in the student discipline code, which is on the district website.

Corby said students are not allowed to "participate in unacceptable physical contact, which includes public display of affection, such as kissing or hugging."

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