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Unreasonable dress code has parents fuming

By Scott Tibbs, September 1, 2009

The school system in Richmond, Indiana has drawn the ire of parents who packed a recent school board meeting to protest the school's new dress code. (PDF) The code, revised in May of this year, allows only plain clothing, such as a shirt of a solid color. No stripes, polka dots or mixed colors are permitted. No logos are permitted except for the school logo. For example, a solid polo shirt with the famous "alligator" logo would be in violation of the dress code and would result in the student being sent home from school.

I am all in favor of a reasonable dress code, banning clothing with obscenities or immodest clothing. Since many parents refuse to discipline their children and regulate the clothing their children and teenagers wear, it falls on the school system to mandate that clothing worn to school does not become a distraction to the school's educational mission. This dress code is not reasonable. I have a number of dress shirts that have patterns or stripes. Is the school system actually saying that a student wearing a striped dress shirt with a tie and dress slacks is a disruption? Does the school seriously expect parents to buy the "argument" that business-like attire is disruptive?

What a bunch of power-mad authoritarian statists. The school board implemented an unreasonable dress code that will be a financial burden to many families, and now that they have been called on their foolishness they are sticking by that code out of nothing more than petulant stubbornness. If the school board wanted such a strict dress code, why not simply implement a uniform? That would make more sense than the arbitrary standards implemented in this policy. Then the schools could move one step closer to a Communist "utopia" where everyone is the same.

Does the financial burden this policy places on parents violate the requirement in the Indiana Constitution that the state shall provide "a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all?" Even if it does not violate the letter of the law, students who are sent home because their parents cannot afford to comply with the school system's excessive dress code standards certainly violates the spirit of the law. Did the school board even consider their obligations under Indiana law to provide a free education?

In the face of furious taxpayers who finance his salary and benefits, Superintendent Allen Bourff petulantly proclaimed that the dress code would continue to be enforced. Bourff's employment should be immediately terminated. According to the minutes for the May 27 meeting, only two school board members had the sense to vote "no" on this ridiculous policy. The other five school board members voted for this dress code (Suzanne Derengowski, Kelly Baumgartner, Patricia Heiny, Linda Morgason, Aaron Stevens) should be fired by the voters when their terms are up.