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Jim Thorpe dress code rules expected to be decided by March

Published October 13. 2009 05:00PM

The Jim Thorpe Area School Board expects to decide in March on rules governing what students may and may not wear to classes.

While most school board members agree a dress code needs to established, setting the rules is a daunting task. Clothing issues arise as fashions change, high school Principal Thomas W. Lesisko said at a public school board meeting Monday. Keeping up with the changes is difficult, and only about three percent of students who violate clothing rules, though, he said.

Lesisko cited as an example a recent trend that drew students to sandals that provided very little protection to toes. The school had allowed backless shoes or sandals, but not flip-flops. "Last year, what came into vogue were these very thin-strapped shoes that almost looked like kids were barefoot. We couldn't have kids having their toes stepped on, so all of a sudden, that became a dress code issue," he said.

For safety reasons, all shoes had to cover the toes and have back straps.

"Almost yearly the dress code has to be modified," Lesisko said. "Fashion trends will always challenge what we think is safe for kids and what's appropriate for kids. A more uniform dress code policy would eliminate that, by narrowing down 'these are the types of things you could wear'."

While the dress rules may become more strict, it's unlikely the district will go so far as to dictate the color of students' shoelaces, said Superintendent Barbara Conway. "It's not a school uniform," she said. "It's a more uniform school dress code. But we're certainly not going to regulate to the point where we'll be crazy trying to enforce it."

Appropriate clothing tends to be more of an issue once students reach adolescence.

Resident Brian Snyder raised the matter at the meeting Monday, saying he had heard parents at a sporting event.

Conway said a panel of board members, students, parents and administrators was formed to establish a dress code. It met for the first time in September and plans to meet again on Oct. 29. The panel is reviewing dress codes adopted by surrounding school districts and gathering opinions. Parent-Teacher Associations in the district are also discussing the matter.

The school board wants to establish the new rules in March because that would give parents time to buy schools clothes over the summer in time for the 2010-2011 school year.

The district hopes to avoid the uproars that ensued after the Tamaqua, Palmerton and Pleasant Valley school districts enacted strict dress codes.

In other matters Monday, the board learned that the high school Scholastic Scrimmage team won over Northwestern Lehigh last week by 295-150. Starters were juniors Adam Dachowicz and Thomas Smyth and seniors Oliver Schultz and Christian Ferko.

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