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School Dress Code Change Not Needed, Parent Says

He wonders if this is just finding a problem through a solution.

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.

Mike November 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM
"My kids say it's fine, so, without stepping foot into the situation, I declare it fine, too." I never knew exposed tramp stamps were religious symbols?
cathy November 13, 2012 at 11:57 PM
wake up and smell the roses.
Sandra Lowrey November 14, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I think Whaley totally missed the mark. The idea of a dress code is to put the responsibility on the parent so it doesn't fall on the responsibilty of the teachers and staff. It starts at home. It has nothing to do with gangs...it has to do with the students wearing clothes that fit, where nothing is hanging out or too little clothing in the warmer months. And yes, even Bridgewater can have gang problems. You took the dress code totally out of context. It would be a good thing for the dress code to be reviewed and implemented at ALL schools.
Mike November 14, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I've said it elsewhere: without 110% support of administration, no male teacher with half a brain is going to risk blowback (from parents, etc.) for doing anything about a female student revealing too much. The boys pull their pants up about 1/2" and three strides later, they're back down. Staff stop and think: is this worth a confrontation? How 'bout having fluorescent pink shirts, XXL, that say "I CAN'T DRESS MYSELF PROPERLY!" and perps have to wear them the rest of the day if cited for showing underwear or body parts? Or inconveniencing parents by requiring immediate pickup for wardrobe adjustment?
Gary November 14, 2012 at 03:15 PM
You miss my point. First, my use of hyperbole was intentional, not symptomatic of a problem. My point is there are already a code. DRESS CODE Students are expected to be neat and clean in appearance and to dress in good taste. Consideration for fellow students dictates that a student’s mode of dress should not be annoying or offensive to them. Clothing should not be so bizarre as to distract students and interfere with the instructional program. Students will not be permitted to wear clothing that is disrupting, distracting, intimidating, or provocative in nature. Clothing which violates accepted safety standards is to be avoided. Students are expected to wear shoes, goggles, lab aprons, etc. as required for specific courses. Modesty dictates that clothing which is excessively tight or revealing is not permitted. Some Specific Dress Code Guidelines 1. Footwear must be worn at all times. 2. Garments designed to be worn as underwear may not be worn as outerwear. 3. Shirts with obscene, insulting, or derogatory slogans are not permitted. At the high school it is already enforced. What more do you need as parent and/or administrator to tell a child to go change. Again, my point is this is a complete waste of time for BOE to deal with. They have greater issues facing them as it relates to the education of children.

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