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Northampton Area School District considers controversial dress code

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 25 2013 11:04:50 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2013 06:55:14 AM CST
NORTHAMPTON, Pa. -

Whether the Northampton Area School Board ultimately decides to implement a dress code for the 2013-2014 school year that would bar students from wearing jeans and T-shirts or not, the issue has already proved controversial.

During Monday night’s meeting the nine-member board heard an array of opinions from parents and students. While there were many views verbalized, most were against what they collectively thought was a nebulous proposal that would limit students’ dress rather than actually define it.

“I know there is a lot of emotion associated with this issue…but we need to have good data,” said parent Susie Dettemer during a public comment session. “We want facts…Is this actually going to be worth it for our children.”

Other parents had already made up their mind.

“I am against the dress code as written,” said Cher Weisner.

Still another parent challenged the board to set an example in their actions, not just their words.

“How many of you people would even be in line with your own proposed dress code,” asked Sarah Beruta. “Looking around this room maybe you should come dressed in uniform. That’s all I have to say to you.”

The proposal, made at a board meeting earlier this month, would limit students to five colors including tan, navy, white, orange and black. The board is scheduled to hear a formal presentation during its March 25th meeting, according to Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik.

The meeting will take place in the high school auditorium to accommodate what is expected to be a large public turnout.

On Monday night, board member Jennifer Miller, who said she was very much “on the fence”  said it was important that all residents be heard and that the best way to accomplish that was by “doing some type of survey.”

“It would give me a true sense of what people want,” Miller said.

Board member Michael Baird said during his experience in the Pleasant Valley School District when they implemented a school dress code they tried surveying parents.

“The survey route was a disaster,” he said Monday night in recalling the experience, adding that it was the responsibility of board members as elected officials to ultimately make that decision.