Grinding and twerking are banned on the dance floor of Iroquois High School, where students also are tested for alcohol consumption.
But unlike some schools that have canceled all dances, the district is not considering that, and has issued “New Dance Rules” that codify the current policy and address issues that came up at the homecoming dance in October.
The newly issued rules were triggered by “circumstances at the last dance,” according to Superintendent Douglas Scofield, who declined to describe the behavior.
“There were 700 students there and two of them misbehaved,” he said. “Most of our students behave very, very appropriately.”
Number 10 of the list of 11 rules dated Jan. 1 states: “Student dancing may not include bodily grinding or twerking. If inappropriate dancing occurs, these students will be asked to leave the dance.”
Twerking may be the current generation’s equivalent to the jitterbug and the twist, with its ability to shock and offend adults. Scofield said the district always has prohibited sexually suggestive moves on the dance floor, and reminds students at annual assemblies.
“That doesn’t mean they can’t do the twist,” he said with a chuckle.
The district canceled a dance about five years ago after some “unfortunate” behavior at a dance, Scofield said. Every four to five years, students see another student making a poor decision, and rules are reviewed and tweaked. Then that group of students graduates and a new group comes in and the pattern repeats, he said. The district also requires administrators to administer an Alco-Sensor test to students upon admission to the dance.
But that’s not a new rule, either. The high school has been testing students at dances for at least five years, the superintendent said.
“If students ahead of time know its going to happen, it becomes a really good reason to tell friends they will not partake,” Scofield said. “To my knowledge, no one has set off the sensor.”
Principal Dennis Kenney and his staff conducted a review of the rules before the new list was issued. One of the main changes is that tickets will only be available through pre-sale at the school, with only current Iroquois High School students permitted to attend.
The full list of rules is available on the high school page of the district’s website, iroquoiscsd.org.
Scofield said one of the unfortunate consequences is that the new rules may punish students who did nothing wrong.
“It’s always tough to make rules because they sometimes exclude some people who should not be excluded, unfortunately,” Scofield said. “But, how do you make an all-inclusive rule that takes in all the exceptions?”
According to the rules, adult chaperones will be “strategically posted” for supervision. Board Member Michele Hovey expressed concern about what’s considered adequate at a recent board meeting.
Kenney said along with a few teachers who routinely help supervise dances, class and student government advisers are encouraged to attend.
“By making all of the tickets available pre-sale only, we should be able to determine the maximum number of kids who will be attending,” added board President Charles Specht.
“We had issues last year, too, but not as serious,” said Kenney, who added that he received plenty of feedback from students, teachers, parents and the community.
The new rules are not uncommon in other districts, Kenney said.
“It’s a pretty mixed bag,” he said. “Some schools aren’t even doing dances because of too many issues. Some schools don’t allow outside guests (and) others have stricter codes.”
The next scheduled dance is the Winter Ball, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27.
And if the kids need some other dances, the district still teaches square dancing as part of the state curriculum, Scofield said.
News Staff Reporter Barbara O’Brien contributed to this report.