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Palmerton board peppered with dress code questions

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS  Palmerton Area High School senior Kalyn Lehr wears the top she said a student recently received a warning for because it was deemed not to be in compliance with the district's dress code.
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Palmerton Area High School senior Kalyn Lehr wears the top she said a student recently received a warning for because it was deemed not to be in compliance with the district's dress code.
Published September 21. 2011 05:01PM

Dress code controversy is back in full swing in the Palmerton Area School District.

Less than a month after the start of school, several students and parents peppered the school board with questions on Tuesday related to the district's current dress code policy.

Prior to the public participation portion of the meeting on agenda items only, board President Barry Scherer told the audience that the board was aware there are "many issues about the dress code."

As a result, Scherer said the board's Policy Committee will hold a meeting open to the public at some point within the next two weeks. Until then, he said concerns should be emailed to Superintendent Carol Boyce.

Resident Linda Lehr asked what would be done between now and then.

"What's going to happen to the kids that have been sent home?" Lehr asked. "What's happening right now is driving us nuts."

Scherer said that in the event a student's homeroom teacher deems that student to not be in compliance with the dress code, there's no reason why the matter should still be an issue by the end of the day.

The board was then told that several teachers have been reprimanded as well over the situation.

But Superintendent Carol Boyce said she didn't know of any instances where teachers were reprimanded, and added the board was in "full agreement" that the matter should be passed along to the Policy Committee.

"My hope is those issues can be addressed," Boyce said.

Lehr said student morale is down as a result.

"You have to understand what's going on with these kids," Linda Lehr said. "They're not looking forward to going to school."

Resident Cathy Ahner inferred that teachers should also be accountable for what they wear.

"Who is in charge of what the teachers are wearing? They're supposed to be role models for students," she stated.

Senior Kalyn Lehr wondered about "the students being victimized by the dress code?"

Scherer said that since the matter wasn't an agenda item, any further comments on the dress code would have to wait until the public participation portion toward the end of the meeting.

Kalyn Lehr then showed the board a pair of jeans she wondered were in compliance with the dress code.

"I have two pair of jeans," she said. "I'm saving for my college tuition, and I can't afford to be buying for everything."

Resident Gail Lutz suggested there should be an "emergency motion," and that all infractions "should be wiped out" until the Policy Committee meets.

"Something needs to be done tonight," Lutz said. "Two weeks is a long time for the kids to wait."

In the meantime, director Susan Debski suggested that parents be conservative with their child's dress attire.

"Make sure you're child doesn't have a single rip, a single fray," Debski said. "If there's a question, don't do it, and that should alleviate the problem."

Resident Lisa McGowan said she was recently notified that her daughter, Katie, a senior, was told to report to in-school suspension for wearing a hoodie.

When her daughter refused, McGowan said she received a call from the school, and told her daughter was given an unexcused absence.

"Last week, my child was pushed down in the cafeteria, and she sustained a cracked rib," McGowan said. "If she gets injured in your school, I deserve to be notified by the school, not my daughter."

While she received a call for the in-school suspension, McGowan said she never received a call from the district about her daughter's injury.

Further, McGowan told the board "your school is negligent for my daughter being injured."

After public participation had ceased, Scherer encouraged students and their parents to bring any garments they have questions about before the Policy Committee.

The dress code policy may be viewed on the district's web site

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