As the board of education continues its investigation into whether there should be a stricter dress code in the township, one parent believes there is no need for a change.
“While I understand words like ‘modesty’ and ‘good taste’ [from the dress code] are somewhat objective, I have full faith and confidence in the teachers and staff to ensure adherence,” said resident Gary Whaley. “So, no, I certainly don’t think the high school dress code should be stricter.”
The board of education has been holding frequent discussions concerning the district’s dress code, and whether a change should be made to enforce it better or make it more strict. Former Bridgewater-Raritan High School principal Lew Ludwig said he would leave it as is, and just make sure the code is enforced.
Current principal Brett Charleston has said he would like to investigate the issue at the school a little longer before making any decision.
Whaley said he is concerned mostly by the fact that there seems to be no real reason behind taking a closer look at the dress code. He said if there was an obvious gang problem concerning the wearing of certain colors, or something of that nature, he could understand the need for making the change.
“However, given the fact that Bridgewater doesn’t have this issue, I can only see this review as a result of one of two scenarios, both of which bother me,” he said.
The first, Whaley said, could be a waste of taxpayer resources to find a solution while searching for a problem. The second, he said, has to do with concerns based on a moral or religious ideology.
“[The latter] is the worst case,” he said.
Whaley said he is concerned that this is just an example of a lack of respect for the minority. He said Bridgewater is a very diverse town, with people wearing clothing that symbolizes their religion.
“We, that would be my collective family, believe there is a sense of tyranny of the minority in play, not just in this issue, but in public service and policy in general,” he said. “It is through this lens I am viewing this issue.”
“We embrace others for what and who they are, not for what they believe,” he added. “That said, I expect the same in return.”
Whaley, who has a junior in the school and another child who graduated last year, said his kids never had problems with the dress code.
“I have had discussions over the years about said policies, and the values and concerns, if any, that should exist due to the nanny state,” he said. “I can safety say they do not have any issues with the existing code.”
“If a student wears something the administration finds in violation, they acquiesce,” he added. “All good.”
Still, Whaley said, he does not believe there is any value to this dress code review process.
“I also don’t believe anyone can provide any empirical evidence that suggests that implementing any changes, either for the code or its enforcement, will have a measurable effect on standardized test scores, AP exam participation rates, graduation rates, college acceptance rates or the long term financial viability and independence of said students,” he said.
“They don’t even need to do more enforcement, they enforce already,” he added.
The board of education is expected to discuss the issue at Tuesday's meeting, to be held at the Harmon V. Wade Administration Building on Newmans Lane at 8 p.m.