Tattoos are on their way to becoming taboo in keeping with the spirit of "zero gang tolerance" in the Sevier School District.

Board members have approved the first reading of a proposal by South Sevier Middle School Principal Randall E. Brown to include tattoos as part of the district's gang and weapons possession policy.The district can legally require that the gang symbol tattoo be covered with clothing or some other means while the student is in school, district officials conclude. Also, "Parents and the student can receive counseling about removal of the tattoo."

An adopted philosophy in connection with gangs states, "Students, staff and community neighbors and visitors are entitled to an environment at school, on school property or district-approved transportation and at school-sponsored activities that is safe, conducive to learning and free from disruptive behavior, threats and/or violence.

"Sevier School District believes that many of those kinds of actions (disruptive behavior) are associated with gangs and may be ritualistic with gang participation. Therefore, the district has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy toward gang participation and gang related activities."

Students are not allowed to wear or display identifiable gang or gang-related hand signals, insignia, clothing or paraphernalia. They are also barred from writing nicknames or other gang-related information and from wearing jewelry indicative of gang affiliation, such as rings in the nose.

The policy calls for confiscating items that are in violation, restitution for damage (including vandalism or grafitti and suspension or expulsion from school. The latter is not subject to age limitations.

District administrations have the authority to identify student behavior as "gang-related" but are cautioned "to act consistently with and be sensitive to constitutional protections of freedom of expression and freedom of association."