Committee members to speak at tonight's forum on Cape school dress code

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The second of two public forums on a proposed uniform policy for Cape Girardeau public school students will run on a format slightly different from the first.

During the forum -- set for 6 to 8 p.m. today in Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School's auditorium -- some members of the district's dress code committee will speak in order to address concerns heard at last week's forum, said Carla Fee, principal of the junior high and chairwoman of the committee.

Fee said she also plans to be more specific about the research used to craft the proposal during her presentation at the start of the forum and will likely hand out materials on it.

The same amount of time, around an hour and a half, should be available for public comment, Fee said. Participants are allotted three minutes each.

During last week's forum, most participants spoke against components of the proposed uniform policy, citing too much expense for families, too much control over individual expression and a failure of the district to enforce current dress codes. Some also questioned the research used by the committee to craft the proposal. Others claimed mismanagement of the methods used to craft the proposal, such as lack of parent input.

According to committee members, parent input is being sought through the review of results from a parent survey conducted in the fall, through the forums and through email.

"We are listening to what we are hearing," Fee said, "and we are taking it all into consideration as we move forward."

The dress code committee will meet Wednesday to evaluate whether changes need to be made to the proposal before the school board work session scheduled for Thursday, Fee said.

The proposed uniform policy requires students wear a polo or oxford shirt in orange, black, gray or white, tucked in with a belt and khaki or black pants, or shorts, skirts, skorts and jumpers within certain length. Certain sweaters and leggings would be accepted. No requirements would apply to outerwear, such as coats. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade would not be required to wear belts.

The Thursday work session for the school board is scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room of the central district offices. The work session is open to the public, but no public comment will be allowed.

The work session is being held so that the school board may ask questions and hear details on the proposal from committee members, said Stacy Kinder, school board president.

"There's just a lot of details there. We haven't been able to hear from the committee very much about why they decided to do things a certain way, but we know they have reasons," Kinder said.

The proposal states the purpose of the committee is to develop a dress code that provides an environment of learning; promotes self-confidence, self-discipline and responsibility; levels the playing field among students; provides a sense of belonging within the district and community and increases school safety.

The school board set a tentative date of Feb. 27 for a vote on a uniform policy. If approved by the board, the policy would take effect at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

205 Caruthers Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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