Tube City Almanac

April 13, 2012

MASD Committee Addresses Dress Code Concerns

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Parents and students have questions and concerns about a new dress code proposed for the 2012-2013 school year in McKeesport Area School District.

A first reading of the revised policy appeared on the school board's agenda at its March 29 regular meeting. School Director Trisha Gadson asked members of the dress code subcommittee present at the meeting to clarify some points within the policy and answer questions raised by the community at a previous open agenda meeting.

Committee members MAHS Principal Mark Holtzman Jr. and George Washington Elementary Principal Paul Sweda both gave their feedback from recent discussions with other building-level administrators.

A second reading of the new dress code is planned for the board's next regular meeting on April 25.

Addressing concerns that the proposed new dress code infringes upon students' ability to express their individuality, Holtzman differentiated the dress code from a uniform code. He argued that with fewer restrictions than a uniform code, the dress code thereby gives students more choices in attire while allowing them to make better decisions by presenting themselves more appropriately.

. . .

"This is a way for our school district and our schools to step forward even further with some of the progress than we've made over the last few years," he said.

Proper dress will allow students to take pride in themselves, their school and their community, added Sweda.

"We want kids dressed for success," he said.

. . .

The public also wanted to know how the district plans to enforce the new rules next year if the new policy is approved. Junior Theresa Kulasa was skeptical that a new policy would stop students from wearing inappropriate clothing and suggested a stricter enforcement of the current rules.

"We need what we have enforced or we will have the same problems in different clothing," she said during a public comment session.

Holtzman defended the district's enforcement of the current dress code, saying that, "We enforce it well. This is not a matter of panicking to change our policy because we are in such bad shape."

. . .

He went on to explain that if the new dress code is implemented throughout the district, administrators will not enforce it any differently than the current policy and plan to provide alternative options to non-compliant students rather than immediate suspension or dismissal from school grounds.

"We're going to provide options and opportunities for them to be provided the appropriate attire for the day or the opportunity to make a phone call home," Holtzman said.

Construction manager Gerald Tedesco announced that the project management team would be donating $500 towards providing students with alternate clothing options.

In addition, the degrees of discipline would vary between grades; in other words, dress code violations by an elementary student dressed by parents and those by a high school student would be handled differently.

Sweda said that the K-6 administration would not send any student home because of a dress code violation.

. . .

Another point of contention, particularly among female students, is the collared shirt requirement. Under the proposed policy, students are only permitted to wear shirts that have collars, such as polo shirts.

As long as a student wears a collared shirt underneath, he or she may wear a sweater over top without an issue, reassured Holtzman.

Even if the board does pass the new dress code for the next school year, it will remain "a work in progress." Board President Patricia Maksin suggested that the dress code subcommittee reconvene in the fall to tweak the rules if necessary with input from the student body.

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Feedback on “MASD Committee Addresses Dress Code Concerns”

It’s not individuality when a great number of boys dress with their pants hanging down off of their hips. That’s conformity to the ‘nth degree. “Look at me, I’m expressing my individualism by dressing like everyone else with my pants hanging off my arse.”
Jonathan - April 23, 2012

“I can’t wear a collared shirt because it hides my neck tattoo.”
John - April 30, 2012

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