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So far, so good with changes at Mabton High

MABTON - A month ago Mabton parents and students packed a school board meeting to protest policies closing the high school campus and enforcing a stricter dress code for the 2012-13 school year.

With the first weeks of school now underway, students seem to be responding well to the changes.

Students are hurrying to get to class on time to avoid a one-hour detention after school, and all are complying with the closed campus policy.

That was the message to the Mabton School Board last night, Monday, from Mabton Junior/Senior High School Principal Jose Elizondo.

He noted students are getting creative within the confines of the new regulation, for example bringing lawn chairs to sit on while eating outside on the high school grounds.

"We're really starting to change the student focus," Elizondo told the board during its meeting last night. "The focus is that we're here for graduation. We're here for an education."

Staff and parents are apparently backing the moves.

"We're getting positive comments from parents," Elizondo said. He noted that teachers are all-in for the tighter regulations, assisting in hall sweeps to make sure students are in class.

"It's almost scary, there's no one in the hallways during class," Athletic Director Brock Ledgerwood said of the change.

The result is a marked improvement in students getting to class on time. Last year there were as many as 25 students tardy for one class period while now at worst there are perhaps 25 tardy students for an entire day.

Last month the district compromised with parents to delay dress code enforcement until the week of Sept. 4-7.

The dress code, too, is meeting with student and parent support, says Elizondo, as already a third of the junior high/high school students are complying with the dress code.

Tawnya Ibarra was one of the parents at the forefront of last month's protests, which included picketing outside the school district office. Last night, though, she praised the new attitude at Mabton Junior/Senior High School.

"The big difference that I've heard from my child is that all the teachers are on the same page," she said.

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