Waterloo Board of Education votes 4-2 in favor of dress code - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo Board of Education votes 4-2 in favor of dress code

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Monday night the Waterloo Board of Education approved a proposal requiring a dress code through all grade levels at all district schools. The policy will take effect in the 2011 school year, but some buildings could implement the rules in August 2010.

Two board members voted against the policy, and the majority of the crowd spoke out passionately against the dress code during the public hearing. They were shocked that the board went ahead with the new restrictions, especially this quickly.

"I'm amazed that they were entering into this meeting with their minds already made up. That they were insensitive to the comments that were made," said parent Paul Smith.

A group of students, organized on Facebook, came to the meeting in current dress code guidelines. Their hope was to convince the Board that students do not support the measure.

"We're all in current dress code, and I see nothing wrong with the clothes we wear because we buy these clothes because we like them. And that's all about public school, because it's for the people, by the people. We pay tax money to support our schools and our schools don't support us in return," said Austin Kinney.

Matt Sprengeler, a parent who has made it well-known that he is against a dress code, thought the board should have given the policy more consideration.

"I'm disappointed that they're going ahead. This is a bad idea. It may be a popular idea, but it's a bad idea. The board admitted as much," he said.

Board members listened to more than an hour of concerns from parents before voting. Those who voted in favor believed the survey conducted by University of Northern Iowa shows the majority of parents support the restricted dress code -- which is now being called a "standardized dress code."

When the votes were tallied, many parents and students were vocally upset with the decision. In fact, the board president was forced to give them the option to stay and remain quiet, or she would have to clear the room. Some parents said they will work to remove the members of the board before their terms are complete.

A few folks did speak out in support of the policy. Reverend Ed Loggins, for one, believes this is the beginning of change for the better in Waterloo Schools.

"I think there's a small contingency that was here tonight that were not in favor of what was going on. But I think the majority of the people who weren't unfortunately here are in favor of that type of change," said Loggins.

One of the points of contention was whether principals should have the right to implement the standardized dress code this fall. The board did vote to leave it up to each principal's discretion. However, Superintendent Gary Norris said parents and students need to be informed of any decisions before the end of this school year.

The board did amend the policy from the first reading. Students will be allowed to wear any solid color collared shirt. They also challenged staff members to be role models for kids, and start conforming to a dress code themselves.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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