Troy SD 30C dress code stays as is
BY MARIANNE EISENBRANDT Correspondent July 24, 2013 8:20PM
Updated: August 26, 2013 3:46PM
JOLIET — A dress code that bans jeans among other requirements will be in effect in the coming school year after the Troy Community Consolidated School District 30C Board last week refused to reconsider the dress code it passed in April.
Several parents who attended the meeting voiced their displeasure with the board, to no avail, as proposed amendments to the dress code adopted in April were voted down 4 to 3. Board members Catherine Besler, Cynthia Rasmussen Grabavoy and Terry McFadden voted to adopt the amendments, while Anne Carney, Kristin Ethridge, David Talarico and board President Mark Griglione voted to leave the policy as is.
The dress code approved in April requires Troy Middle School students to wear solid color polo shirts or Troy spirit wear, and traditional twill, woven navy blue or khaki pants, skirts, shorts or capris every day. Denim jeans and denim-type material are not permitted.
Speaking before the board voted, Scott Murray, a parent of two Troy students, said, “Most of us are here because of uniforms (dress code). We are in a public school, not a private school.”
Murray said the board shouldn’t decide what his kids wear to school, and that if the board was going to restrict freedoms at a public school, then parents should send their kids to a private school.
He also expressed concern over the district spending an estimated $40,000 to subsidize the cost of required clothing for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Thirty-eight percent of students would be eligible to be compensated for their clothing purchases.
“Those claiming they live in poverty are lying. If you can afford to pay $5,000 in property taxes, you can pay for your own kids’ lunches,” Murray said, adding the board should be spending the money on programs for students rather than on clothes.
Jeff Nurczyk, who has a daughter at Troy Middle School, said the dress code policy didn’t matter to him but said administrators have to have consequences for parents who don’t comply.
Supt. Don White said he believes the law would require the district to subsidize clothing for eligible families.
“While this could mean purchasing clothing, my understanding is that making accommodations could also mean other things. I am working on language that I will share with the board that addresses this notion of how we can accommodate those in this situation,” White said.
White said the amendments would have allowed the wearing of jeans, did not require polo shirts, and would have allowed shirts with some slogans that are not offensive.
McFadden said he voted for the less-restrictive proposal because it made parents and students more responsible for their own behavior.
“We did not survey the community in any depth. We only surveyed one grade at the junior high last year, and to change the dress code or uniform code without a thorough want or need on the part of the community was irresponsible and arrogant on the board’s part,” McFadden said in an email. “We didn’t have a major problem; now we have a major problem.”
Griglione said the dress code that existed before April was still being violated.
“We have high expectations of our students and parents to enforce the district’s policy. We all have to understand that this is school, not the beach, not the mall,” he wrote in an email. “Our main priority is to provide an excellent education and safe environment. There are all kinds of data to support this and to support that. At the end of the day, we are in the business of providing an education and plan to do so.”
During public comments near the end of the meeting, some said the policy was cost-effective for their family, while others thought students’ behavior was better with a dress code. Some were concerned that parents won’t be able to find the proper pants.
The board also was presented with email comments regarding the new dress code. Of the emails received, 46 parents (30 percent) supported the dress code that was approved in April; 87 parents (58 percent) were against it, and 18 parents (12 percent) were neutral or unsure.
“This topic is very emotional for many parents and board members,” White said.