EXETER — The Wyoming Area School Board in a 6-3 vote Tuesday night passed a new dress code.
Board members Carl Yorina, Kimberly Yochum and Estelle Campenni voted against the policy.
Many of the members of the near-capacity crowd that attended the event walked out of the meeting immediately following the vote.
The idea to implement a new dress code came at last month’s meeting, which brought in a standing-room-only crowd, rallying against the revised dress code.
After June’s meeting, district Solicitor Jarrett Ferentino said that he called an executive session on July 7 to address some concerns he had with the enforcability of the policy, prompting minor changes from then to now.
“I had some concerns after the last meeting,” he said.
Originally the new code was to affect students in grades four through 12. However, the revised code will now affect students from grades seven through 12.
Regardless of adjustments made to the policy, there was still a great deal of opposition to the new dress code.
Yorina was the first member to speak against the code, saying that implementing a dress code fails to add to the value of a student’s education and stunts self-expression and creativity.
“The experience I’ve had — in both public sector and private sector — is that I don’t really think that this is going to fix anything,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s broken.”
Another common theme among board members opposing the policy change was that they felt that they hold no extra authority after the gavel hits the desk, adding that a dress code constricts individual self-expression.
“As an individual — like Carl said — I’m nobody,” Yochum said to the audience. “I’m somebody only when I’m one of nine members up here.”
No one spoke in favor of the dress code during the meeting.
Board member Vanessa Smith came closest to accepting the code, and even she made sure to point out she was still against it.
“I think this is a happy medium for many of the parents who voiced complaints — myself included,” the mother of three said to the board. “I would like to say while I do think this is a good medium, I’m not for dress codes at all.”
Incoming Junior Addison Orzel came to the podium to question exactly how disruptive a new dress code will be to the current education system.
“What is really more disruptive to a student’s education,” she asked. “Wearing a hooded sweatshirt, or being pulled out of class for not wearing a collared shirt?”.
Board member Toni Valenti was on the policy committee that created the code, along with Gerald Stofko, Carmen Bolin and John Marianacci. She said that the new dress code has been something that’s remained in constant discussion for years, and that it’s something she stands by.
“This has been going on for years,” she said. “We expected to get backlash, but when it’s something you believe in (you stick by it).”
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