A committee within the Palmerton Area School District has been charged with the task of revising the district dress code policy.
The school board unanimously agreed on Tuesday to form a committee comprised of parents, school board policy committee members, and administrators to review the district's dress and groom policy.
Board President Barry Scherer said anyone who would like to serve on the committee will have until June 22 to submit their letter of intent to the superintendent. The committee would be comprised of 10 parents, two from each of the five school buildings in the district, four school directors, as well as administrators, Scherer said.
"We will task that committee to come up with a policy, and bring it back to the board for its approval," Scherer said. "Hopefully, we'll come to some resolution over an issue that's been ongoing for over a year."
Scherer noted that any changes to the dress code will eventually be mailed out by means of mass media.
Resident Michelle Proffit said she knows of a lot of parents who have already done their clothes shopping for the coming school year.
"I'm all for the dress code, but not until next year," Profit said. "To try to get this in place by the next couple of months when people are done shopping, that's where the uproar is."
Resident Tiffani Christman thanked the board for the decision to form a committee.
"The real problem is enforcement; and how the board is going to enforce that the dress code is followed through," Christman said.
Scherer said instances where students violate the dress code should be handled immediately in the morning.
Debski said that while that may be true, it's going to take a team effort on behalf of everyone.
"No matter what dress code we have, the parent needs to support the administrator," Debski said. "Everyone has to work together."
Resident Mary Jo King said she was disappointed by the fact that the dress code was still listed on the agenda after months of discussion.
"I applaud you as a board for doing what you did here," King said. "I just want to see some accountability across the board."
Resident Dawn Brinker also said she believes too much time has been devoted to the matter without any real resolution to date.
"It just seems like a lot of time wasted," Brinker said. "The real problem is enforcement, and I think you need clearer guidelines of enforcement."
Superintendent Carol Boyce said that while she agreed, such a process was necessary.
Resident Charlene Furry then suggested that the policy be extended to all student activities, such as on the school bus, field trips, and athletic events.
Prior to that decision, the board decided to reject the first reading of a revised dress and grooming policy.
Last month, the board held a special meeting to discuss the policy, at which time it appeared as though senior high and junior high students would potentially be affected by a more stringent dress code policy next year, while students at Towamensing Elementary, S.S. Palmer Elementary, and the Parkside Education Center wouldn't.
Some of the proposed changes to the dress code policy discussed at last month's meeting as proposed at that time would no flip flops, no noticeable underwear, no bare middrifts, no cleavage, no sweat pants, warmups or windbreakers, heels only up to 2-inches, skirts are to be knee-length, shorts are to be no more than 2-inches, and no holes in clothing, among others.
The board held brief conversation on the matter of hair color, but no proposed changes appeared to have been made with regard to that issue.
The dress and grooming policy was discussed at a board committee meeting earlier this month, when it was decided that a special meeting was needed to revisit the matter.
Before that, the board in April held a special meeting in response to a request by junior high school Principal Thaddeus Kosciolek, who said he believed the matter needed to be revisited because instances where the dress code is violated continue to escalate.
Kosciolek also said at that time he hoped the district would consider the adoption of a dress code similar to one adopted by the Tamaqua Area School District. He said Panther Valley and Pleasant Valley school districts have also adopted new dress codes.
Larry Wittig, president of Tamaqua Area School Board, attended that special meeting to discuss the successful dress code that was implemented in the Tamaqua Area School District five years ago.
Jim Thorpe Area School District last month adopted a new dress code for its students that will go into effect at the start of next school year.
Kosciolek said that in instances where students are in violation of the dress code, parents are called and asked to bring in something else to wear. If not, the students are placed in in-school suspension, he said.
High school Principal Kathy Egan said the school has extra Palmerton Blue Bomber T-shirts, which students have the option to wear. Egan added at that time that a current problem pertains to the length of shorts worn by girls in the high school, where she said about 50 percent are not in compliance.
Based on the suggestions he heard from the committee, as well as the public who were on hand, board President Barry Scherer said the district will attempt to tighten up the policy, instill the consequences, and track the number of incidents.
The committee also discussed the possible formation of a districtwide committee to review the policy at some point. Kosciolek then asked the committee for time to come up with suggestions to make the policy more specific.