Evansville pom pon uniform debate continues
All eight speakers during the public comment period of the board’s Monday night meeting spoke against the changes that banned uniforms that didn’t meet the school’s dress code.
More than a dozen students and several parents attended in support of the poms team. Board member Tina Rossmiller requested the discussion after a parent contacted her. No action was taken at the meeting, but one parent proposed a committee be formed to create uniform guidelines.
Rossmiller said she was looking for consistency. If uniform changes are made, they should be looked at across all areas, she said. Rossmiller also wondered why the issue was being addressed now if the poms uniforms have been a problem for years.
No other board members opined on the uniforms, though member Sharon Skinner said forming a committee is a good idea.
Rossmiller said after the meeting she plans to request the item be placed on the February agenda for action.
Poms captain Rachel Ammerman said the most upsetting part is that the banned uniforms were paid for through fundraisers the girls held the last few years.
“We spent thousands of dollars of our own money,” she told the board.
Principal Scott Everson, who started in Evansville last fall, has said he responded to comments from the community about poms uniforms. The result was banning a black spaghetti-strap tank top the girls have worn for years and other uniforms that violate the dress code. Everson has said the district would buy two new tops for the girls this year.
He said last month that he and other administrators hoped to get all co-curricular attire aligned with the student dress code, which bans halter tops, tank tops or tops with spaghetti straps that expose the chest, back or midriff.
District Administrator Heidi Carvin apologized to team members after speakers called her out on an e-mail she sent to a poms parent. Her e-mail mentioned dating violence, teen pregnancy and lack of respect for young women as issues of concern in the community. Carvin said she never meant her words to be interpreted as problems caused by poms members and said she very much admires the good, hard work the girls put in.
Parents and students said the poms team was being treated unfairly because uniforms in other sports violate the dress code, show more skin or are tighter to the body, such as wrestlers who wear singlets or cross country members who run in sports bras and short shorts.
Senior Nicole Thomas, a former poms member for three years, said she watches the team in the stands and hears other spectators say how ridiculous the uniform situation is. She said she doesn’t hear boys in the stands say they are turned on because they see the girls’ shoulders.
Morals are what cause teen pregnancy, not being on a poms team, she said.
Several speakers, including the poms coach, called out people who write anonymous comments on stories posted on GazetteXtra.com and a local blogger, all who have written hurtful words about the poms girls.
“The overall behavior from adults in the community is not acceptable,” Ammerman said. “This has hurt us to a very great extent.
“These people keep hiding behind user names … and never come out into the public to tell us how they really feel,” she said.
Poms parent Tina Widmyer presented the board with a packet of information on how other districts choose uniforms. Widmyer met with Everson last month, and he requested she gather the information. She also requested a committee be formed to study the issue.