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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  Frayed with dress code, mothers ask for school uniform

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  •  Managing EditorTwo mothers of Wallenpaupack students told the School Board at the last board meeting that a standard school uniform would cause less problems than the revised dress code.?It has been rare in the last two years that parents or other public have approached the School Board and Administration at a public board meeting with a question. The stricter dress code, put in place beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, has raised concerns among some families. Debra Strezanec of Hemlock Farms, said she spoke for others parents and children who also did not fully understand the Board’s goals.?She said that telling families what to wear is not enough. “It is a burden on parents,” she said. The School District will run out of T-shirts quickly if they keep handing them out when a student comes showing too much collar bone, she noted.?“Use of a uniform would save everyone involved some trouble,” she advised.?High School Principal Jay Starnes said that the vast majority of the students have been complying with the code, and the learning curve has been a lot shorter than they expected. The most concern is in the high school and middle school grades, although the number of infractions has steadily decreased since the first day of school on Sept. 5. No disciplinary actions have been taken.?On the first day, the high school had about 70 students who did not meet the new dress code; this was down to 12 the second day and now it is less than five. Principal Keith Gunuskey said at the Middle School, they had 40 infractions the first day and seven the next.?About 50 new but left-over school t-shirts were distributed to students who came to school not in complaince, Starnes said. They had the option of calling home to have other garments brought.?Starnes said the new code was developed after having two meetings with representatives from the student body. Other school district policies were compared. He said the District wished to not go so far as a standard uniform so the students would have some autonomy, while at the same time covering up. He said that a uniform was considered but was thought to be too restrictive.?Girls’ clothing that is too low, as well as shorts and pants that were too short were among the items addressed.?Strezanec said that the policy concerning the collar bone was too subjective. Starnes said the collar bone is a way to measure the neck area to determine what is appropriate.?The Principal said that anyone with concerns about the high school may call him, or the principal of the school in question.?Superintendent Michael Silsby said the revised dress code is a big change from last year, which will still be evaluated. He assured the code won’t go back to the old policy but will go forward. Starnes said that there has been a noticeable improvement in the schools, from students and staff, who respect the decision to strengthen and enforce the dress code.?Strezanec asked what about cheerleaders- will they be on the same dress code.?“Not exactly,” Starnes explained. “A cheer leading uniform is not right for math class. The athletic venue is different.”?At the same time, there are restrictions in athletics and physical education. Some gym uniforms were brought in to ensure kids were dressed appropriately.?Silsby said that the District may consider bringing in a clothing vendor to sell appropriate clothing, help families having a hard time finding appropriate items.?Another mother, Venus Merritt, spoke as well, who said flatly, “ think the dress code is wrong.” She said that football players and cheerleaders have had V-necks for years but now it is not appropriate.?“I prefer a uniform... the bottom line is tuck your shirt in or detention.”?Although meetings to discuss the dress code were held with the students, Merritt said, “My kids don’t pay for their clothes, I do.” She said that each night her kids ask of these clothes will be all right for school the next day.?She said parents should be surveyed. “We speak for the majority,” she claimed. A lot of the students, she added, were too upset and afraid to speak out.?Merritt said her daughter used to think Wallenpaupack was her favorite school. “You’re making it hard on a lot of people,” the mother said. “And I don’t think it is fair.”

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