New Kensington-Arnold board debates dress code
New Kensington-Arnold School Board members advocating for a stricter dress code have considered ways to sell the idea of uniforms to students and parents.
But first they'll have to convince fellow board members.
Marilyn Claassen, the board member leading the dress code committee, had hoped at the Feb. 27 board meeting to get initial approval of the revised policy that would require all students to wear plain collared shirts and khaki pants, skirts or Bermuda-style shorts next school year.
But other board members said they weren't yet ready to move forward with the draft dress code revision submitted by Superintendent John Pallone.
Board President Bob Pallone was skeptical school staff would be able to enforce the stricter policy when he believes enforcement of the current policy is lax.
“I don't get it,” he said. “Show me for a year we can enforce the policy we have first.”
Board member Laura Varner-Norman said the current policy leaves too much room for interpretation, leading to inconsistencies in how parents, teachers and administrators react to certain items of clothing.
By limiting the permitted style and color of clothing options, Varner-Norman said everyone would have an easier time making judgment calls.
“A yellow golf shirt is a yellow golf shirt,” she said.
Board member Pat Petit questioned whether they could just tighten up the language in the existing policy to address areas that lead to misinterpretation. Problem items that have been discussed include hooded sweatshirts, hats, leggings and other tight pants, sleeveless shirts and baggy pants.
Bob Pallone said he believes most of the dress code problems occur at the high school and instituting uniforms districtwide would be punishing elementary and middle-school students.
But Claassen said problems have been brought up at other grade levels.
Valley Middle School Principal Pat Nee said he spends about a half-hour most mornings dealing with dress-code violations.
“The kids know the policy,” he said. “They're just choosing to break the policy.”
Varner-Norman said she didn't see uniforms as a punishment and advised against presenting it as such to students.
She and others advocating for uniforms said the more professional presentation can lead to increased to school pride and reduced disciplinary problems.
She also believes the policy could better prepare students for the workforce.
Jodi Bussard, a New Kensington resident, told the board she didn't think uniforms would reduce behavioral problems: “I think it's ludicrous to think a dress code is going to change a child's personality.”
“This is not going to fix the problem,” Bob Pallone insisted.
Claassen has said the uniforms could lead to reduced costs for parents buying school clothes because the required items could be purchased at discount retailers like Kmart and Target. During a student fashion show of clothing options, Claassen noted most outfits cost less than $20 each.
But some questioned whether it would cost more because parents would need to buy two sets of clothing — school-appropriate uniforms plus more casual clothing children would want for evenings and weekends.
“I'd like to continue working on this,” said board member Regina Namey.
Jason Fularz, who oversees the board's policy committee, said he would schedule a committee meeting this month before the March 27 regular board meeting to continue discussion on the dress code as well as other issues.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Photo of suspect in Greendale Tavern burglary/fire released
- Flurry of business activity enlivening quaint Saxonburg
- New Kensington homicide suspect faces trial on tampering charge
- Brackenridge high-rise infested with bed bugs
- Knoch graduate a success in male-dominant profession
- Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation donates $12,000 to revamping middle school library
- Salvation Army taking iconic red kettles online
- Positives seen despite Valley Junior-Senior High School performance scores
- Springdale Library to pay rent to borough
- Upper Burrell man accused of selling Suboxone
- Lower Burrell home damaged in fire