Parents & Waterloo Schools react to Dress Code Decision - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Parents & Waterloo Schools react to Dress Code Decision

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A judge is ruling in favor of a group of Waterloo parents who claim the school district's dress code policy is illegal. Thursday afternoon, Judge Carol Greta recommended the Waterloo Community School Board of Directors reverse its mandatory district-wide dress code policy.

The two parties met last month for a hearing at the State Board of Education in Des Moines. Parents Rick and Teesha Peters argued, the Standardized Dress Code is actually a uniform policy. The district says they are only trying to do what's best for students.

What parents may be wondering now is, what are their kids required to wear to school Friday morning?

"The recommended decision is just that -- a recommendation -- and will not become final and binding until November 17th, 2010," said Superintendent Dr. Gary Norris.

What the District will allow starting November 18th is a matter of debate.

"I'm quite confident right now that the state is going to reverse the dress code policy, and it's going to force the district, if nothing else, to listen to what they call 'naysayers', what I would argue is maybe the voice of reason, in implementing a policy that actually will work," said parent Paul Smith.

The district argued, the majority of the community actually supports the current policy. And they believe, the judge's decision doesn't say "throw the code out." It just calls for them to change the language. For example, instead of requiring collared shirts --

"It could say, no T-shirts allowed," Norris suggested.

"I do not feel a groundswell of support for taking out the policy all together. If we have to modify the language, and we decide that's the best course of action, we'll go with that," said School Board President Michael Young.

Moving forward, the board can appeal, and the Superintendent suggested he'd like lawmakers to take up the issue.

"With one or two sentences added to the code, the legislature could give control on this to the local boards," said Norris.

Either way, we certainly haven't heard the end of the controversial code. The decision now goes to the State Board of Education. The topic will be on their agenda at their next meeting, November 17th. The State Board can affirm, deny, or modify the proposed decision at that time.

What does this mean for Cunningham and Carver schools -- which already had uniform dress codes in place? Norris said they're consulting their attorney, but he believes the judge's ruling does not apply to them. That's because parents could transfer their kids to a different school within the district.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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