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Teachers: Code has many flaws

Published September 30. 2011 05:02PM

Count the Palmerton Area Education Association among the many detractors of the school district's revamped dress code policy.

In a letter directed to the school board and read aloud by Superintendent Carol Boyce at Thursday's Policy Committee meeting, the PAEA urged the board to revise the policy.

Signed by PAEA President Brad Landis, the letter expresses the PAEA's position.

"In its current form, the student dress code policy has many flaws and problems and has caused controversy," Landis said. "Most notably, the policy is difficult to enforce due to its subjectivity."

Landis said, "There is an overall consensus among the secondary faculty that we are spending too much time policing the student dress code.

"The teaching faculty loses valuable instructional time enforcing it. Taking time to write up dress code violations and sending students to the office are time-consuming tasks."

Landis said that for instance, the dress code states that girls cannot wear 'cleavage-showing tops', "but how can one define cleavage in a way that all are in agreement? Phrases like these create inconsistencies."

"In its current form, our teachers are having difficulty in determining whether a particular garment is in violation of this policy," he said. "The subjectivity makes it difficult for our teachers."

Further, Landis said "the number of restrictions in the current dress code policy exacerbates the situation because it makes it difficult for a teacher to catch all of the violations."

"This can easily happen with the number of students in some of our classes," he said. "And when it does happen, teachers fear that it causes administrators to view them negatively."

Landis said the situation makes for difficult circumstances.

"While it creates all sorts of other problems, most often the current policy creates uncomfortable situations," he said. "By example, male teachers needing to address inappropriate attire with female students."

Landis ended the letter with the remark that "it is the Association's hope that the board will revise the current dress code policy to create one that is not subject to interpretation and more precise while promoting a positive learning environment in our schools."

Boyce remarked that administrators and teachers shared the same concerns.

"Brad and the teachers aren't alone in that too much time is being taken away from education," Boyce said. "We all are united, and feel that we're spending too much time on this, and not enough time on education."

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