Janesville School Board OKs employee dress code
How they voted
The Janesville School Board voted 5-2 to adopt a staff dress code. Here's how they voted:
Yes: David DiStefano, Scott Feldt, Kristin Hesselbacher, Peter Severson and Bill Sodemann
No: Karl Dommershausen and Kevin Murray
Absent: Greg Ardrey and Deborah Schilling
JANESVILLE A dress code for Janesville public school employees won't go into effect until July 1, 2013, Superintendent Karen Schulte said after the code was approved Tuesday.
The school board approved the code on a 5-2 vote.
Schulte noted that the code is a part of the employee handbook that will spell work rules and benefits. The handbook is not scheduled to take effect until July 1.
In the meantime, principals and other supervisors will continue to enforce employee dress standards as they do now, Schulte said after the meeting.
That means there may be inconsistencies, with one principal allowing blue jeans, for example, and another principal banning them, Schulte said.
Schulte had pointed to the inconsistencies as a major reason for the dress code, saying principals needed clearer rules to enforce.
The school board has no formal employee-dress policy, but it has adopted "standards of professional behavior" that state employees should dress appropriately.
Janesville School Board members Karl Dommershausen and Kevin Murray voted against the code, which was revised after an earlier draft raised questions and concerns.
Murray said the revision still needed work. He pointed to criticism the board heard Tuesday from local lawyer James Fowler, a former school board member who has followed the issue.
Fowler told the board the code has numerous instances of ambiguous or confusing language and recommended it be cleaned up before adoption.
Murray and Dommershausen said they don't like the process used for approving the code and other parts of the handbook. Murray said the entire handbook should be approved rather than the administration's piecemeal approach.
Murray said employees have not had the opportunity to discuss the changes with district officials, although he noted an email account was set up so employees could comment. Employees also have raised concerns at two school board listening sessions.
David DiStefano, who originated the idea, said the code could be changed if needed later. Schulte agreed.
DiStefano said the issue needed to be "put to bed."
Board President Bill Sodemann agreed the board should move on.
Sodemann said the code is more relaxed than in Waterford, where his cousin must wear a shirt and tie.
Sodemann said he was "amazed" at two TV cameras at the meeting.
"Slow news day, I guess, in Wisconsin," he said.
As in the original version, exceptions to the code include spirit days, casual Fridays and a variety of specialized jobs. The principal or supervisor is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the code.
The revision is shorter than the original draft and has numerous small changes. It allows Capri pants, for instance, whereas the original version banned them.
Schulte said she had listened to board members and staff comments in writing the revision.
The code says "employees are expected to dress in professional attire to best represent our school district." Allowed will be collared shirts, including polo shirts, turtlenecks, and casual or dress slacks including khakis and corduroys; sweaters; "formal professional attire"; women's skirts, dresses and blouses; athletic shoes in good condition; and "dress sandals."
Banned will be denim of any kind or color and clothing that causes distractions, is ill-fitting, reveals undergarments, is "provocative" or ragged.
Teachers union President Dave Parr said Monday that teachers accept requirements to dress professionally, but he was "stunned" the school board spent so much time on an issue that affects only a few teachers.