Dress code on Janesville School Board agenda Tuesday
JANESVILLE A proposed dress code was released to Janesville School District employees this week, causing a buzz among teachers and other workers.
The code addresses suggestive and offensive clothing, tattoos, and exceptions for those who work in maintenance, technical education and other jobs that do not lend themselves to the business-casual tone of the rest of the document.
The school board could discuss the proposal at its meeting Tuesday. No action is scheduled.
Teachers union President Dave Parr would not discuss the specifics, saying he is still collecting comments from teachers. He didn’t want to comment before seeing the entire picture.
Parr also said he wants to give Superintendent Karen Schulte a chance to respond to a formal statement from the union. Schulte is in China with school board member Kristin Hesselbacher. The pair are seeking a school with which to form a partnership. They are expected to return Thursday.
“There are a number of questions, and we hope those are addressed,” Parr said.
School district workers are now asked to wear “appropriate attire,” but there are no specific rules. Principals and other supervisors have discretion to decide what is OK.
Standards vary by school building, said Steve Sperry, director of human resources.
The proposal is still being discussed and could change, Sperry said.
“You have to understand that the intent of this is to put together a dress code that makes the expectations clear to all employees. There’s no guesswork,” Sperry said.
Sperry and Parr both said they want professionalism from employees, and so they embrace that aspect of the proposed code.
The code allows collared shirts, including polo shirts, casual or dress slacks, suits and ties, sweaters, sport coats, blazers, and “women’s skirts of modest length.”
Athletic shoes in good repair and “dress sandals” would be OK.
School board member David DiStefano, who proposed the change, wants specifics.
“My feeling is that I like more of a set-in-stone dress code, and I’m not looking for professional dress,” DiStefano said Friday. “I’m not asking for gentlemen to wear suits and ties. I just think khakis, a polo or button-down shirt, a blouse for women, is appropriate.”
Writing the draft was “a group effort” that relied on suggestions from other school districts and business practices, Sperry said.
DiStefano said he has no problem with letting principals ease restrictions for spirit days, casual Fridays or for extremely hot days, “but Tuesday in November, most teachers should have business professional or business casual attire, and frankly, the overwhelming majority of them do.”
Physical education teachers would be able to wear athletic gear. Technical education teachers would be able to wear clothing appropriate for working with metals or wood, for instance.
The proposal outlaws “blue jean clothing of any color or style,” leggings, sweatshirts, T-shirts, “political buttons of any kind,” spaghetti straps, sundresses, tight-fitting or excessively baggy clothing, flip-flops or other beach sandals, and tattoos that detract “from a professional image anywhere on the body.”
“If someone’s got their kid’s birth date on their arm, I don’t think there’s any problem with that,” DiStefano said. “I think if there’s a skull and crossbones with a cigarette hanging out of the mouth, I don’t think that’s appropriate for elementary school.”
Sperry said obscene or racist tattoos would be objectionable even when the employee was not on duty.
“Let’s face it, we don’t want to discredit the district or the individual, and we certainly don’t want something distracting instruction. ... I can’t say that’s happening right now,” Sperry said.
On the agenda
Janesville School Board members Karl Dommershausen and Kevin Murray will host a listening session from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St. Residents are invited to ask questions or voice concerns.
The Janesville School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the board room. Agenda items include:
-- Continued discussion of options for changing employee health insurance starting next July 1.
-- Discussion of early-retirement benefits, which could be changed when union contracts run out next summer.
-- Action on the use of $42,000 from the Save Janesville Schools organization. Recommended options are to increase teaching hours at the Janesville Academy for International Studies at a cost of $8,082; restoring the elementary library aide hours, $18,410; and restoring a partial librarian position at Parker High School or other schools, “as needed,” $15,508.
The meeting will be carried live on Janesville cable channels 96 and 993. It will be shown at midnight, 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.