Tavares, FL - Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Guest column by Rick Riker on Results of the Lake County School Board Meeting last night regarding another Board vote on whether the tighten dress codes or not.
Board Member Kyleen Fischer flipped her vote again, and was joined by Debbie Stivender and Rosanne Brandeberg in voting down a proposed change in the School District Dress code supported by Jim Miller and Tod Howard.
Riker gives a good description of the 3 1/2 hour public hearing last night. Links to the District's press release and other articles are at the bottom of this document.
The picture at left is NOT from the Lake County Dress Code policy.
By Rick Riker
Monday night found the county Board of Commissioners chambers packed with over two hundred Lake residents, all were there to weigh in on the proposed uniform dress code the School Board had tentatively passed on the first reading the previous month by a 5 to 0 vote. And weigh in
Of the approximately fifty people who choose to speak only six spoke in favor of requiring students to wear a uniform. One overriding theme ran throughout the night. The public is over this issue, it was vetted, it lost, and now the board should get on with some positive steps to get our school system an A rating. Many speakers pointed out the fact that there are more pressing issues the board should be working on such as the lack of textbooks, leaking ceilings in schools, requiring one school to cover their computers with plastic garbage bags when it rained.
Six of those who spoke against the policy were incoming seniors for the 2012-2013 school year. Whether you agreed with them or not one thing everyone could agree on was they were literate, focused, and each presented intelligent reasons for their opposition. One young man said he was concerned with the fact he would have to dress down if required to wear a uniform. He felt his daily dress of shirt and tie will enable him to enter the real world more prepared than if he were required wear a uniform.
One of the most interesting facts that was brought out by a parent was that even though Osceola School District, the district Commissioner Miller keeps using as a positive example, has a mandatory uniform policy, Lake County students scored higher on most of this years FCAT and Lake doesn't require their student to wear uniforms.
You would think with forty some people speaking in opposition to the proposed plan the same arguments would be repeated over and over again. If you thought that you'd be wrong. Each person had a unique viewpoint. At the end of the meeting many people remarked they wished they had said something similar to what others said. Comments were that good.
After the public spoke the board members got their turn. The tension was high. Even though those who spoke against the proposal were eloquent the previous vote being one of 5 to 0 for the proposal it didn't look good for their viewpoint prevailing. Commissioner Howard, who already has some schools wearing uniforms in the south end of the county voted for the proposal.
Commissioner Stivender, who is campaigning for reelection, stated she had to vote her conscience even if it cost her the election and seeing the outpouring against the proposal she would vote no. Commissioner Miller who has been the main advocate for uniforms restated his position, he would vote yes. Commissioner Fischer, who had brought up the issue the month before, stated she wanted to do the best for the school district and hearing the opposition felt Lake was not ready to accept uniforms, she would vote no. The final vote would come from board chairman Brandeburg. After a short statement she announced her vote would be against the proposal.
The 3 to 2 vote will hopefully put the issue to rest so the board can get on with more pressing matters. Whether you are for uniforms or against them one positive thing came out of the meeting that should satisfy everyone. At the suggestion of Commissioner Fischer a committee of private citizens and school personnel will be set up to determine how well the present dress code is working and make recommendation how to solve any problems.
(Editor's Note: This new decision was the same results as about a year ago. The only change was when Kyleen Fischer flipped her vote on the issue and Stivender and Brandeberg joined her grudgingly to show a unanimous vote, but last night, Kyleen flipped her vote, and Brandeberg and Stivender reverted back to their original decision.
The most hilarious presentation by a speaker was a mother who brought in half her kids clothing closet to show his school clothes and describe how they didn't meet the newly proposed dress code.
Additionally, a BIG focus of discussion by some speakers, including this editor, was the lack of enforcement by the administration of the existing dress code. Parents and students both talked about why have a dress code when they, and even one Board member, have seen Administrators ignore dress code violations. As one speaker said "maybe you need to clean house in the Administration so the current policy will be enforced. ")
Here is the official press release of the decision from the Lake County School Board office:
There is supposed to be an online version of the video of the School Board regular Monday night meetings, including last night's meeting, but I cannot find it. When I get that information from the School District Public Information officer Chris Patton, I will post the link or update here:
Here is the article in this morning's Daily Commercial on the meeting last night:
Here is the EARLY Channel 9 TV report, which was mostly done BEFORE the decision during the day.
HERE is the final motion and voting from the "Board Docs" section of last night's agenda:
- end -