Clearfield Parent, Students Oppose High School Dress Code
CLEARFIELD – A parent and two students voiced their opposition to the Clearfield Area High School dress code policy, which prohibits any clothing with tears or holes, at the school board’s committee meetings Monday night.
“We wanted to bring (this issue) to the school board. We are not here to disrespect any adults,” said Sara Stetler, a sophomore. “I have the utmost respect for you and Mr. (Principal Kevin) Wallace.”
Among the students, she said there has been a lot of discussion about the “holes in jeans.” In addition, she said classmates staged a “protest” at the school Sept. 9. While other students participated, Stetler said she did not. For her, she explained the issue was more than just “holes in jeans.”
According to her, most parents and or students had already purchased school clothes prior to the start of the new academic year. She noted that Wallace permits students to wear jeans, which have holes, so long as they’re patched underneath.
“And, we are grateful for that,” she said. She suggested they return to last year’s policy, or at least permit holes in jeans if they are below the students’ knee. She estimated that 80 percent of her jeans contained holes below the knee.
Stetler then pointed out that some school uniforms, such as those worn by members of the cheerleading squad, include “short shorts” and skirts. She didn’t believe it was fair for those to be allowed while holes in jeans were not.
Sophomore Haylee Lawhead said it was beyond holes in jeans for her as well. She was enrolled in a cyber-school last year but decided to return to the high school for her sophomore year. She said that cyber-school was a big mistake, and she also loved to attend school. She has since opted to re-enroll in cyber-school.
Lawhead said students who have been “standing up for what they believe in,” are being ridiculed for the same. She said people have been making “rude comments” toward those students.
“I think I have every right to get an education in the school district, where my parents pay taxes,” she said. “It’s just sad that I can’t even do that.”
Parent Deborah Kirsch of Clearfield concurred with the students, stating that she “stood behind them.” She asked the board if they had gone shopping lately.
“It’s the only way they come,” Kirsch said of jeans, which can now be purchased pre-torn. “There’s not too much that you can do about it.”
At the same time, she understood the position of the high school administration. She agreed that any student who wears clothing with large holes or in places that are too revealing should be sent home.
“But it’s about the only way that they’re sold anymore. It’s about all they sell,” Debbie Kirsch said. Interim Superintendent Dr. J. Thomas Frantz, too, believed they’ve had a new trend “thrown at them.”
Wallace said students knew of the dress code changes at the end of last year. In addition, he stressed that these same policies were enforced by the high school administration as far back as former Principal Dr. William Wunder.
According to Wallace, they haven’t had problems with all of the students. He said they’ve only had a few who started to push the envelope last year. He said that it evolved into a real distraction for them at the school.
Lawhead then asked if students were permitted to wear holes in their clothing at the middle school. Wallace identified that he needed to meet with the teachers and administration, so that they could enforce it more consistently district-wide.
Wallace advised that they haven’t had any new dress code policy violations at the school. He said they have been working with the students to resolve the issue. However, he said students who are addressed about their clothing have only been disciplined if they become insubordinate toward the administration.
For next year, Frantz said the high and middle school administrations should coordinate the same dress code policies for their respective handbooks. He said it would eliminate any “double standards” across the district.
Board President Dave Glass said he supported the need for a dress code. He believed that a few “bad apples” have ruined the whole barrel in this instance. He said they needed to move on and learn from it though.
Stetler thanked the board for listening to their point of view. She realized they may not see a change this year. However, she said it was important to move toward a compromise in a civil manner.