Dress code shouldn't be priority

Published March 18, 2007

The dress code for Pasco's public school employees has a new accessory - the white flag. Thursday, a committee assembled by Superintendent Heather Fiorentino devised a dress code policy best described as status quo. Judgment on appropriate attire will be left to individual school principals. Smart move.

The perceived trouble of educator apparel surfaced last summer. Without input from the rank and file, district administrators devised a proposed dress code for the 2007-08 school year, but intended it to be considered as a recommendation for the current school year.

Among the highlights: No capri pants for women, no denim for anybody, but recommended neckties for men. It smacked of heavy-handed mico-management from the top and created a needless morale problem among faculty.

Fiorentino said she was trying to assist principals, but that rationalization fizzled when a district survey of administrators found 37 elementary school principals had conducted 71 one-on-one discussions with a staff members about appearance.

That is an average of fewer than two discussions per school which typically average 95 staff members each.

Rewriting a policy when only 2 percent of the people are the problem made little sense.

The Pasco School District is confronting growth, school construction, teacher merit pay, training future administrators to fill a pending leadership void, expanding vocational education, placing students from a folding charter school, recruiting employees for new schools, a substitute teacher shortage and dealing with cumbersome federal and state mandates.

Denim should be the least of its worries.