Equal time, June 17, 2005

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I got myself in a little hot water with this feature last week. I was in the Pensacola airport last Friday morning waiting on my plane. My computer was not fully charged so I plugged it up in case I wanted to watch &uot;Team America World Police,&uot; which my son bought on DVD, on the flight home.

I was surprised when I powered up the computer that it picked up the airport’s wireless network. I went to suffolknewsherald.com to see what was in the news and read the story about the school system demanding that girls wear dresses to graduation. I hadn’t updated the blog in a day or two so I thought I would give it a try.

The story said that a Lakeland student had lobbied to be able to wear a nice pants suit to graduation but was denied. I just thought this was a little over the top. That’s what young people wear and with their gowns over top, it didn’t really matter.

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I hurriedly typed up something that had a line that I thought at the time was funny about some lecherous school official wanting to leer at young girls’ legs.

By the time I arrived home I had a nasty email awaiting me over the line. I went back and read it and decided the writer was correct. It wasn’t funny. Just mean.

It’s not my intent with this be mean nor to promote some of my wildly outlandish UFO and government coverup theories (Which are true, of course) but just to give a little extra behind-the-scenes news or commentary.

So I called Managing Editor Luefras Robinson and asked her to remove that posting from the site, which she did.

I didn’t think anymore about it until Wednesday when I received another note. I went back to the site and there was the Friday posting again. Somehow it had reappeared. I assumed Webmaster Michael Curbelo had put it back up but he said that wasn’t the case. That it must have remained in the FTP file and the next time the site updated, it reappeared.

Anyway, while I apologize if what I wrote was offensive and did try to remove it, I think it only fair that I post what readers took the time to write. The responses appear below:

The editorial comment from Mr. Prutsok on the dress code for Suffolk Public Schools graduation is an off color assault of public school officials.

I see the need to expose the issue on the dress code confusion if in fact there is one, but to add the comment about ogling at some young girls legs is inappropriate, and at best poor journalism, and leaves the readers with the opinion that school officials practice sexual harasssment.

I would hope that space could be provided to report positive and accurate news that supports the City of Suffolk, and Suffolk Public Schools.

I have a son who will graduate this week from Nansemond River High School, and am quite proud of the fact that some dress code is in place to prevent sagging shorts, and tank tops, and flip-flops to a part of this ceremony that he has worked so hard over the past twelve years to complete..

I think you owe school officials and the senior class of all Suffolk schools an apology.

Robert M. Brooks

Dear Mr. Prutsok,

As a sponsor of the Senior Class at King’s Fork High School, which categorizes me as a &uot;school official&uot; per your editorial, I would like to respond to the editorial.

First, I would like to congratulate our senior class on their graduation.

They have done well and we all wish them the best as they travel life’s pathway.

I would also like to congratulate and thank them for their exemplary behavior at our graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 11.

Graduation here at King’s Fork was a new experience for all of us, and thanks to our administration, staff, graduates and guests, it was a successful day and our graduating seniors were honored in a ceremony filled with the appropriate decorum and formality reserved for such an auspicious occasion.

A special thank you also goes to the men and women of our police and sheriff departments that assisted us with graduation.

It is because we wanted our graduation to have the formality and dignity that our students deserved that we drafted a code of appropriate dress.

It was drafted by our senior council, comprised of students elected by their peers.

A copy of the dress code was mailed to the parents of every senior.

We had minimal problems at graduation with dress code issues, and no senior was denied the opportunity to march with their classmates.

I concur that our seniors are adults; however, even adults are given guidelines for appropriate conduct and dress for various occasions.

Both white collar and blue collar employers have certain expectations of their employees.

In this same vein, we have expectations of our seniors for their graduation, and we appropriately conveyed these expectations to them and expected them to comply accordingly.

To suggest that the skirt requirement was derived by some &uot;lecherous old school official&uot; is personally offensive to me, and I am offended for my colleagues as well.

You have taken something that was done in the spirit of providing our seniors with a dignified and memorable graduation and turned it into something perverse.

Our school system is operated by dedicated men and woman committed to the education and well-being of our students.

To suggest otherwise is totally inappropriate and offensive.

I am thankful that Suffolk Public Schools has high standards and that we have building and central office administrators that stand behind us in enforcing these standards.

I think an apology is in order.

Sidney A. Neighbours