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New dress code possible for Steel Valley students

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Steel Valley school board voted Thursday to continue developing a new district dress code.

The motion passed 7-2 with directors Beth Cannon and Thomas Olson dissenting.

Current dress code policy has not been revised since 2002. It is posted on the district's website, www.svsd.k12.pa.us, via the board policies link under the Board of Directors tab. The policy indicates it will not interfere with the rights of students or their parents to make decisions regarding appearance unless it presents a hazard to health or safety, disrupts the educational process, causes excessive damage to school property or prevents students from achieving.

No official changes were approved Thursday, but preliminary discussions suggest the new dress code would require more solid colors and plain clothing compared to patterns and designs.

Those in favor of the revision said changes are being made for educational and economic reasons.

“We're in the academic industry, not the fashion industry,” said school director Mike Terrick. “This kind of levels the playing field for people from an economic standpoint. It avoids flashy clothes and other things that other people might not find it easy to afford ... If you open it up for multiple colors and multiple wardrobes, then you kind of water it down.”

A survey was given to students and parents prior to Thursday's meeting. Superintendent Ed Wehrer said students are largely opposed to dress code revisions, while parental responses are balanced.

“That's what the results were. Are we surprised at that? No, we're not surprised,” Terrick said. “It's comforting to know the parents are at least divided evenly (on the subject).”

Wehrer declined to comment on any specific alterations of the dress code, but said uniforms would be a positive adjustment for Steel Valley.

“I think it can create an environment more conducive to learning,” Wehrer said. “There's a reason why sports teams wear uniforms and try to be well-dressed.”

A new dress code could be approved at the May 29 board meeting.

Steel Valley High School Robotics Club received certificates of recognition for its first school year of existence and participation in the Southwestern PA BotsIQ competition last weekend at California University of Pennsylvania. Steel Valley was one of 46 schools in the contest. Its robot was called Iron Plow.

“They didn't win. What they did do was learn a lot and compete,” Wehrer said. “I think it's indeed a positive sign.”

Students in the club are Ryan Brown, Thomas Joyce, Sarah Faulds, Michael Kraycar, Chad Navarro and Codell Cutrary. They already started working on next year's model.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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