Will Palmerton Area School District adopt a districtwide dress code?

The topic of dress code changes will be discussed at a special meeting of Palmerton Area School Board tonight at 7 o'clock in the high school cafeteria.

Larry Wittig, president of Tamaqua Area School Board, is expected to be on hand to discuss the successful dress code that was implemented in the Tamaqua Area School District.

The dress code was brought back up for discussion in Palmerton during last week's meeting of the school board's Curriculum, Athletics, Personnel and Policy Committee.

At that time, junior high school Principal Thaddeus Kosciolek told the committee he believes the matter needs to be reviewed in greater depth.

Kosciolek said that while last year's policy helped with things such as jewelry and piercings, instances where the dress code is violated has only continued to escalate.

He also said at that time he hoped the district would consider the adoption of a dress code similar to one adopted by Tamaqua, and noted that Panther Valley and Pleasant Valley school districts have also adopted new dress codes.

On Monday, Jim Thorpe Area School District also adopted a new dress code for its students that will go into effect at the start of next school year.

The dress code has been a source of controversy in Palmerton since last year, when the district agreed to clear the records of 20 high school students who had been reprimanded for wearing T-shirts critical of the school dress code.

At the request of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the district in October agreed to clear the records of the students who wore "Property of PHS" T-shirts to class.

Also as part of that agreement, the district decided to expunge the students' records, allowed them to make up classroom assignments and quizzes that were missed because of the school's disciplinary action, and to wear the shirts in the future without fear of retaliation.

Palmerton's current dress code policy states that students are to "maintain certain standards of cleanliness and decency."

The policy also states that "shorts may be worn; however, they need to be in good taste and not the type that are typically worn for gym class. Also, clothing which advertises drugs and/or alcohol and clothing with any type of double meaning will not be permitted."

As for jewelry and other adornments, "earrings and body rings worn at locations other than the ears are not allowed. Specifically, those worn in the nose, eyebrow, tongue, cheek, or any other visible location beside the ears are not acceptable.

The piercing of body parts and the insertion of jewelry or other objects which result in bleeding, oozing of bodily fluids, or other physical condition which may reasonably pose a danger to the student or others is considered inappropriate and unacceptable."

In addition, there are to be "no chains worn other than those designed as a necklace or bracelet, accessories containing spikes of any sort shall not be permitted, and hair coloring of a fluorescent or nontypical color shall not be permitted."

Also, "accessories deemed to be distractive, disruptive, or offensive in nature are prohibited, adornments which tend to mar or damage school property or which can be used as a weapon are not allowed, nor are adornments that prevent the student from achieving his/her own educational objectives because of blocked vision or restricted movement."

The policy also states that students "may be required to wear certain types of clothing while participating in physical education classes, shops, labs, extra-curricular activities, or other situations where special attire may be required to ensure the health or safety of the student."