Waterloo Schools Standardized Dress Code heard by state judge - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo Schools Standardized Dress Code heard by state judge

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

The controversy over the Waterloo School District's revised Standardized Dress Code policy went back before a judge Monday in Des Moines. At issue - simply whether the new proscriptive policy is legal.

Administrative Law Judge Carol Greta listened to nearly 8 hours of testimony from school district leaders, board members, principals, and even a Waterloo Police officer. The district wanted to make the case that the Standardized Dress Code is not only legal -- the policy is necessary for student safety. Much of the witness testimony focused on gang activity in Waterloo schools and how a dress code prevents gang members from showing their affiliation.

"It was clear that we really hadn't presented enough evidence to show that, like other communities all across our country, not just in our community, schools have issues with gangs," said Sharon Miller. "We wanted to show too, what the colors mean to gangs, what plaids mean."

Parents Rick and Teesha Peters spent minutes arguing their side. They say, the new dress code is essentially the same as the one ruled illegal by the Iowa Board of Education earlier this year.

"State law seemed to say, in our opinion, this kind of restriction on clothing, enforcement of clothing in the district, is illegal," said Rick Peters.

Judge Greta will have several weeks to weigh the evidence on both sides before making a recommendation to the Iowa Board of Education. The BOE will hear the case, and make a final ruling, in September. That's the earliest date Greta could place it on the board's meeting calendar.

Superintendent Gary Norris noted the district will be well into the 2012-2013 school year when the BOE rules on the matter. As of now, all Waterloo Community Schools will enforce the Standardized Dress Code in the fall.

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