Tensions flare over school dress code

August 12, 2008 1:43:08 PM PDT
Police were called to a school board meeting because of the loud protests of parents upset about a revamped dress code that includes prison-like jumpsuits for kids who don't comply. Gonzales Independent School District superintendent Vic Salazar said that following the public comment period Monday night, a few members of the audience started yelling at school board members about the dress code. They were asked repeatedly to quiet down but would not, he said. Salazar didn't know who called the police.

"When it gets to be disruptive, we asked them to leave," Salazar said Tuesday. "They wouldn't be quiet. They were given an opportunity" to speak.

Capt. Gayle Autry of the Gonzales Police Department said two police officers arrived to keep order, stayed less than an hour and didn't arrest anyone.

The school district is implementing a revamped dress code that includes a ban on cargo pants and requires students to wear collared shirts. Those from fifth through 12th grade who don't obey may also be put in prison-style navy blue coveralls the district ordered from Texas Correctional Industries, the industrial arm of prison system.

District officials have emphasized that the coveralls are only an option aimed at allowing students to comply with the dress code and remain in the classroom. Parents can still bring students a change of clothes or students may still go to in-school suspension.

Salazar said the retooled dress code, approved in July, was not on Monday night's agenda, but that seven people spoke against it during the public comment period.

Gonzales is about 70 miles east of San Antonio.

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