Waterloo Public Schools Survive Perhaps Final Dress Code Challenge

WATERLOO- The ongoing flap in Waterloo schools over a dress code policy for students may have finally come to an end.

On Thursday, an administrative law judge affirmed the revised dress code drafted by the Waterloo Community Schools.  The judge said the district had created a policy that complied with state code.

The decision by Judge Carol Greta goes against two Waterloo parents, Ricki and Teesha Peters, who challenged the rule on behalf of their school-aged children.  The Waterloo School Board first tried to adopted a policy that limited school dress to just certain types of clothing in 2010.  The Peters challenged successfully then in arguing that dress code violated state rules.  Waterloo schools revamped the rule to outline what students couldn’t wear instead of what students must wear later that year.  That revised dress code survived the challenge of a hearing last June.

One Waterloo parent applauded the decision.  Krista Dreyer said “I love it, I absolutely love it.  It saves a ton of time in the morning—what to wear, what not to wear.  It’s much easier for them (students).” 

Mike Young, president of the Waterloo School Board, said the decision Thursday should end a source of friction both for the district and parents.  Young said “we’re very hopeful we can all move forward now—removing the distractions that have been in  place.  After all, one of the reasons behind the dress code was to remove the distractions from our classrooms.”

The Waterloo dress code policy is aimed that outlawing certain colors and patterns of clothing that have a gang connection.  It also describes clothing that might be considered inappropriate or too overtly sexual.

Teesha Peters, one of the parents who challenged the dress code, said those who still oppose the rules will have to decide what to do now.  One way to challenge might be to file on behalf of a student who was disciplined for a dress code violation.  The administrative judge noted that none of the Peters children had run afoul of the dress code rules. Baring any new appeal, the State Board of Education is expected to approve Waterloo’s dress rules in a final version on September 15th.

About half of Waterloo’s public schools began using the revised dress code standards last year.  The remainder began using it in this school year that is just a week old.