Thursday, July 10, 2003

Fairfield schools target loopholes in dress code



By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - Educators here are fine-tuning their year-old dress code to leave less room for interpretation.

The dress code went into effect at the start of the last school year with the understanding it would be reviewed if revisions were needed.

Board of Education President Anne Crone said the code also needs to be better enforced.

"Children need to come to school appropriately dressed to learn," Crone said. "It needs to be enforced from the administrators right down to the children and the parents."

Fairfield Intermediate School teacher Valerie Isaac said there seemed to be two major issues at her building.

"Parents want it to be more enforced. Some people would (strictly) enforce it. Some people were more lax," Isaac said.

"At school, we saw more bellies. Another big concern was girls wearing flip-flops, even when I think the code said no backless shoes for K-6. It's a safety issue, especially if they're going up or down stairs and lose a shoe, or ... during recess."

Assistant Superintendent Lynn Kitchen is going through the document looking for vague language or description, particularly words such as "excessive" or "distracting."

"This is always an issue that has a lot of passion. Parents are passionate about it. Kids are passionate about it," Kitchen said. "Wherever we find something that could have been interpreted in many ways, we want to give it more standardized language."

Overall, though, Crone and others are pleased with the revisions. Parents, students and staff had an opportunity to respond to an unscientific survey about the dress code.

About 15 percent - 1,621 - of Fairfield parents returned the surveys with a majority (46 percent) saying they wanted to maintain the current policy, said Jeff Kursman, a district spokesman who compiled results.

A third of the parents wanted to require uniforms; 18 percent wanted standardized dress and less than 3 percent favored relaxing the policy.

Among the 3,823 responding students in grades 5-11, a slight majority, 42 percent, favored relaxing the policy, while 40 percent favored keeping the current policy.




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