Waterloo schools consider first reading of district-wide uniforms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo schools consider first reading of district-wide uniforms

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Monday night, Waterloo's Board of Education will consider a district-wide uniform policy. The proposal calls for all students in Waterloo to dress in collared shirts and navy, black or khaki slacks. This is similar to the dress code already in place at Cunningham Elementary and Carver Academy.

"It's one of the big steps when your kid can pick out their own clothes. You go to any preschool - it's one of the things moms talk about, or dads -- "My kid dressed themselves today! They're wearing polka-dot pants and a striped shirt, but they dressed themselves, isn't that cool?" -- and so now that they're 16, 17, 18, we're going to take that away from them?" asked Deidre Shea.

It's safe to say, Shea and Matt Sprengeler do not want the district deciding what their daughters wear to class. They thought, at the very least, they'd have a few months to worry about fighting a new policy.

"I was very surprised, I was very disappointed. It looks like what the board is trying to do is stampede this through without doing the proper research and without consulting the district's parents," Sprengeler said.

Last month, Shea and Sprengeler attended a School Board uniform policy work session. They left with the impression that the district would conduct research and surveys, and return to the drawing board in the summer.

"The two things that we don't know that I think this board needs to talk about is, what problems are we trying to solve here, and how are uniforms going to solve those problems. Neither one of those points has ever come up," said Sprengeler.

So how did the district go from considering a dress code, like the one at Cunningham, down the road, to a first reading of a policy less than a month later? And why the rush?

"They moved that up just a little bit so there's more time to communicate before school is out if something actually does get passed. It's very much in draft form at this stage," said Waterloo Community Schools spokesperson Sharon Miller. She added, "we wanted to develop a standard that we could give parents and the board something to react to."

The district is conducting random phone surveys this week, and plans to report back to the Board on May 24th. Miller stresses -- this is a proposal, not a final policy.

But Shea and Sprengeler feel, the whole thing is moving too fast. They're concerned this "draft" will turn into a decision, whether parents like it or not.

"Someone in the administration is just trying a lot of things and hoping some of them work. That's not the educational environment I want for my kids," said Sprengeler.

If passed, the restricted dress code would not take affect until Fall 2011. However, if individual principals feel they're prepared to implement it, schools can adopt a uniform policy this fall.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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