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Dress code interpretation continues in Palmerton

Published June 07. 2012 05:01PM

Dress code violations continue to plague Palmerton Area School District.

The controversial topic was again bandied about at a workshop session of the board of directors on Tuesday.

Superintendent Carol Boyce said the district's administrative staff needs to have some sort of direction to take.

"It's a huge job that has an awful lot of interpretation, it's hard to enforce it, and there's a lot of gray area," Boyce said. "Everything is subjective; that's the issue."

Director Susan Debski said "you either have to just abandon it, or you need to solidify it."

Boyce said the board needed to "help us tinker with the policy so that it is enforceable and acceptable."

Debski vented frustration that the matter was still an issue.

"This is just dragging on; nobody really wants to make a decision," Debski said. "A decision has to be made; we have to make a hard decision."

High school Principal Kathy Egan told the board the situation continues to manifest itself.

"It hasn't improved anything because it's so open to interpretation," Egan said. "The abuse we take from students and the parents that support them takes away from what we're being paid to do."

Egan said the matter has become a routine source of frustration.

"It's not a very good situation," she said. "It is a nightmare to enforce."

Resident Mary Jo King said she is a parent who served on a board committee that reviewed the dress code two summers ago.

"It's not just us," King said. "There are ways to handle it."

King then suggested teachers take the same approach that has worked for her husband, who is a teacher in a neighboring school district.

She said whenever her husband sees a student who he believes is in violation of the dress code, he tells the students to stop, and asks them if they know why he's stopping them.

Director Tammy Recker offered her take on the situation.

"My perspective on this is the enforcement of it," Recker said. "I like what Mary Jo had to say."

Brad Landis, an instructor at the junior high school, told the board "I think you're asking the teacher to do something they weren't hired to do."

Resident Tiffani Christman told the board one of her sons missed 40 minutes of class because he had to wait to see the principal to see if it the clothing he had on was deemed inappropriate.

"If the teachers have guidelines and they think it's inappropriate, then change it," Christman said. "I just think we're wasting a lot of our principals' time."

Debski said she believes "the teachers are afraid they're going to make a decision that's not going to be backed."

Director Josann Harry added "to me, it comes down to respect for each other."

Board President Barry Scherer said "we need enforcement and support."

Boyce said after the meeting the consensus of the board is to move the present policy forward with a few tweaks here and there.

In November, the board agreed to accept the second reading of Policy #221 Pupils - Dress and Grooming.

The revised policy is posted on the district's web site,

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