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Austintown addressing its code

Published: Thu, September 25, 2008 @ 12:07 a.m.


A more strict dress code may become a reality for pupils at Austintown Fitch High and Austintown Middle by the 2009-10 school year.

AUSTINTOWN — Will pupils at Austintown Fitch High and Austintown Middle schools be allowed to wear jeans next school year?

Only time — and the district’s dress code committee — will tell.

Austintown Superintendent Doug Heuer said the committee’s job is to survey other districts’ dress codes to decide what works best.

“The committee is looking into a limited dress code, which allows quite a bit of choice, so it’s not like having to wear a uniform,” he said. “It just narrows it down a little bit more.”

Heuer said the committee, appointed by the board of education, is made up of board members, teachers and administrators, as well as parents.

The implementation of what districts call a “limited dress code” may help reduce classroom distractions and aid in the learning process, he said.

“Particularly in the seventh- and eighth-grade and high school levels, we are dealing with distraction issues,” Heuer said. “Kids want to make a personal statement, and sometimes that detracts from the educational experience.”

Chris Berni, Austintown Middle principal and committee chairman, said some of those distractions include skirts or shorts that are too short, jeans that rest too low on the hips and shirts that are too revealing.

He said a new code will still allow pupils to show individuality.

Berni said the idea isn’t something that’s come about in a matter of a few weeks. Interest began in March of the 2007-08 school year, and the committee was formed soon after.

“We knew for a fact that there was no way we’d be able to implement this in [2008-09], and we wouldn’t be doing families justice by putting something together that quickly,” Berni said. “We didn’t want to rush through this. This process is too important, and we want to get it right.”

According to state law, parents must be given at least six months notice before a school dress code can go into effect. So the committee will present the revised code to the board in December, Berni said.

If the board accepts the proposal, the spring semester will be used to educate parents and pupils on the new code.

“We will hold fashion shows and parent meetings so that prior to the end of this year they’re informed and have seen it on kids who have modeled the clothing,” he said.

Berni said a limited dress code will give pupils “freedom within a framework,” because there will still be some clothing options.

“Right now, nothing is definitive, but we’ve been looking at Lowellville schools and Reynoldsburg, out of Franklin County in Columbus,” he said. “They already have something in place, and they have something that we’re very interested in.”

Under a new dress code, forbidden fashions might include jeans and clothing with large logos or advertisements.

“Students will be wearing slacks or cargo pants, and they’ll have three solid colors to choose from, four solid color options for shirts,” Berni said. “Students won’t be limited to just long or short-sleeved polo shirts.”

Berni said families will still be able to buy clothing at any store as long as the fashions meet the new guidelines, and help will be provided for pupils unable to afford the cost of new clothes.

“Without a doubt, financial assistance will be provided for those who meet that criteria,” he said.

Jon Perkins, 17, a senior at Austintown Fitch, said he wouldn’t be opposed to a dress code crackdown.

“I think in some cases it’s necessary, because some students abuse the privileges,” he said. “But then it’s a matter of us wanting to be able to wear what we want to wear.”

Perkins said he thinks a more strict dress code might cut back on the inappropriate skirts he often sees while walking through the halls.

“I’ve seen some really low skirts, and holey jeans,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just disturbing.”

Freshman Laura Green said a new dress code might cost some pupils their individuality.

“You just want to be able to express yourself, and [a new code] will keep us from being able to do that,” she said.

Green said she’s already feeling the backlash of some recent dress code changes.

“We’re not supposed to wear zip-up hoodies anymore,” she said. “I used to wear them all the time last year.”

Pupils aren’t the only ones unsure about a revised dress code.

Some Austintown parents decided to join the committee because they wanted more facts.

“I can’t say that I 100-percent supported it when I started, but I listened to the information that we were given, because I, like a lot of people in the community, heard things,” Kelly Phillips, PTA member said. “I wanted to be part of the solution.”

Phillips said that after discussions with other parents and committee members, she’s confident the intention is not to make every pupil look exactly the same.

“There’s a huge difference between uniforms and just restricting the dress code,” she said.

To Phillips, the most important thing is her child’s education.

“[My son] wears jeans every day, and he will be devastated if they take them away, but if this is going to level the playing field in terms of education, you have to decide what’s really important at the end of the day,” she said. “I am more concerned about the education and safety of my child than what they are wearing.”


1AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Exactly. When what is being word is distracting then the administration is not doing its job in the schools. If there are dress code issues with students, the 7 principals that we have in AMS and Fitch should be handling the situation. Don't be fooled people, this is the first step in the direction of open enrollment. They need to implement this in order to pull out the color issues that will happen when open enrollment is brought to A-town.

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2AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I meant worn -not word

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3WoodsideMom(1 comment)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

It is too bad that rather than enforce the rules currently on the books, the school board is looking for parents to spend more money. The issues with "distractable" clothing mentioned in the article are already addressed in the district's clothing guidelines which are clearly spelled out in each student's handbook. Why should we force students who are following the current guidelines to adhere to stricter policies in order to better handle the current code violators? The enforce what is already there - do not limit my child's choices in clothing, and my opportunities to find appropriate school clothes are a reasonable price.

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4Jake23(2 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

The Austintown School District currently has outlined a perfectly acceptable dress code. If it were followed diligently and enforced properly, there would be no problem with distracting clothing. What is so distracting with wearing jeans? Nothing. There is an immense difference between properly fitting, clean looking jeans and low rise jeans or jeans with holes throughout them. The current dress code needs to be strictly enforced and all of the clothing distractions would vanish.

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5Mimi2BC(147 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

This would be the last straw for me as far as my children's continued attendance in this school district goes. If they go to anything even resembling uniform or even uniform-like I will pull my kids out and send them to Canfield, Ridge or Milton! This is a deal breaker for me and mine. If there are children breaking the rules of the current dress code... punish them not the entire system! All of the provocative clothing has already been addressed in the current dress code... try enforcing that! If I wanted little future McDonalds employees or future inmates I might actually support a UNIFORM!

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6dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

you guys crack me up. They are not looking at uniforms. They are looking to not have kids dress in an outragous way. If it is so about education, why are you so worried about them changing the dress code?

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7AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

It is a restricted dress code supposedly to help the education process. It is not about education - it is about making it less of a hassle on the administrators in the buildings. If they did their job and enforced the current dress code, there would be no issues. Instead we have whining babies getting paid almost 6 figures to do nothing about it. This is also the first step towards open enrollment. Mark my words people, when open enrollment comes around in the year 2010, don't say you weren't warned.

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8oldfitchstudent(3 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I am an alumni and had 2 daughters recently graduate from Fitch... I agree with several of you people because there is a dress code that has NEVER been enforced as of yet.. they will hassle someone with a small diamond stud in her nose before they will do something about HUGE BLACK HANGING PANTS ALMOST OFF THE BUTTS, CHAINS, BLACK MAKEUP ON FACES, BLACK NAILPOLISH, RINGS HANGING OUT OF LIPS, ETC... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE DISTRACTIONS HERE..?... ENFORCE THE PROBLEM CHILDREN'S CODES NOW... MOST ARE DOING JUST FINE WITHOUT THE HASSLES... I do agree midriffs should not be shown, skirts above the knee, etc... common sense should prevail but parents aren't doing their jobs so I guess the schools have to, but start with the obvious... PLEASE!!!!!

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9xytown(63 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Austintown "Youngstown Ghetto West" open enrollment here we go!!!


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10dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Mimi2BC: said "If I wanted little future McDonalds employees or future inmates I might actually support a UNIFORM!" What about profession that do wear uniforms like firefighters, police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, military(which you already know that one). That comment you made was rude! Oh and as for sending your children to Milton, way to put education first! Their system is horrible! But your right pull them due to uniforms cause that is the important issue here!

I love that whole uniform idea! I think all school districts will eventually be in them ! I mean come on there is a mother in a school distict who is sueing them cause her SON is not allowed to waer black eye make up. There is no place is school for that kind of behavior. So now the gils may not be able to waer make up either. All the dress code changes seem to fall back onto the students and now it looks like some parents too.

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11AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

We need to start holding them accountable. You are so right piwohio - there are far worse things wrong in our schools then the dress code that could be handled with simple enforcement in the schools by the people that are paid to enforce these rules.

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12dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

The parents pay for uniforms. Believe it or not it is much cheaper then having to buy them all new clothes for the school year. I've talk with many parent who actually like the idea of uniforms. They said it will save them a crap load of money. You all are making it out that the uniform/ dress code is their biggest concern. Do you go sit in at the board meetings? If not go, voice your opinions there cause i'm sure they are not reading the Vindy boards to see your complaints.

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13AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I really am tired of the clueless people claiming it will save them money. It will not save you money because not only will you have to buy school clothes, you now need to buy normal clothes that the kids will wear outside of school. Where is people's common sense?

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14dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Common sense, let me tell you I wore uniforms all thoughout school. I was able to were the same uniforms in "junior high", and then again thoughtout high school. So yes that did save my parents tons of money. So from experience they are money saver. I'm not clueless AtownParent! Thank you very much! You can buy two pairs of pants and like three shirts to last you all year. With regular clothes you need to buy many, many more. I had to buy my son school clothes this year and i wish they did wear uniforms! Uniforms are not that expensive metz87. You can find navy blue pants and white polos at The Village Outlet. They are not expecting you to buy for School Bells!

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15Mimi2BC(147 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

dmets..... if we are trying to raise nurses and doctors, by all means let them wear scrubs.... before you go one another rant, I am a nurse and my husband is OSHP. We are both retired military. We both wear uniforms... we are both college educated.... the big difference, we weren't forced to wear them while going to elementary, junior and high school. Khaki and blue pants with a white shirt..... next time you frequent your local drive-thru take a gander at their uniforms, see any resemblance?! As for Milton.... it is one of many options, our first choice is Canfield. You can say it a million times but my clothing budget would be double... one for school clothes and the one for everything else. My children have grown at least a size every year... so to say that from this point on I could buy one set of uniforms and be set is ridiculous! The other point I made was that my daughter does not wear khakis or any other twill material pants, very rarely wears jeans... she hates those types of pants. She wears skirts, dresses and nice sweat outfits. So I should force her to wear clothes she has never liked.... I want my girl to look like a girl, pinks, purples, etc.... At any rate, it's my choice.... it's not yours, dmets and I am fortunately in a position where I can move my children. As to whether it's an important reason... maybe not... but it was one more reason in a long line of reasons that will influence my decision. And since you're such a big fan of uniforms... send your kids to school in them now.... nothing is stopping you. You've said how much cheaper it is.... go nuts, buy them now... no time like the present to show your support!

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16AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Seriously dmets, if you think 3 pairs of pants and 3 shirts are going to make it from 6th grade into high school you haven't looked at any of the kids in these schools. It will cost more, and the fact that you seem to not grasp the concept of having to buy two sets of clothes is more expensive tells me you do not have common sense.

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17dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

AtownParent: I do have common sense. I have been there in my life. So please quit question my common sense: it's all there.

Mimi: I don't want to send my chilren where they wear uniforms. I choose the school district they are in based on EDUCTION! I looked at school report cards. If they do decide to go to uniforms I will welcome the idea!

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18THIRTYSFORD(14 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I wrote the following to each member of our wonderful school board almost a year ago. Of course, I had no reply.
"I like the fact that our kids are allowed to be individuals and I want it to stay that way. Uniforms and strict dress codes keep the children from expressing themselves. Think back to when you were kids, would you want anybody, especially people you don't know, telling you how you can dress? I think not! Is there a gang problem that we don't know about? Are the kids not dressing to meet the dress code? Why is this even an issue? Why are the rules not being enforced? I will support the freedom of my child, along with all the kids of Austintown, to choose their own clothes! Our children are individuals and I want them to be treated as such! I want them to grow up in a town they can be proud of like I did."

Clothes are an individual expression and all of our kids have the right to express themselves. If there are kids breaking the rules, then enforce the rules, don't make them more strict. My son dresses pretty much the same way I did in school, jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes. It was good enough for all these years but now that we have Heuer, nothing is good about our school system according to him. Heuer is hurting our school system and does not have a vested interest in our community.

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19dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

metz87: I was just pointing out that there are many profession who wear uniforms not just fast food workers and inmates.

Kids can express themselves outside of school. Schools are for learning not a fashion show. As I said before sometimes things change cause of the students and even parents. I mean come on, is school really the place for a boy to wear black eye make-up? There is a mom sueing a school over it.

i think everyone is taking the uniform, or more strict dress code a little too far. Schools are for EDUCATION!

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20AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Exactly, so why is the uniform even a thought on the administration's mind? Because they are too lazy to do the jobs they are paid for and enforce the rule. Oh, and also because they need to get the policy on the books before the open Austintown schools up to Youngstown thugs - that's the real reason. You border Youngstown and you open enroll, you better make sure to keep the gang colors out of the school and no better way to do that then to institute this kind of dress code.

I question your common sense because I can't seem to find it in your posts about this subject.

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21dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Well AtownParent I have plenty of common sense. But it's really hard to get gang colors out of a school, when your colors are gang colors(red and blue). Also there are plenty of schools that are close to youngstown that have open enrollment, and not many are from youngstown. The parents don't want to have to get their kids to and from school everyday. I don't see many thugs transferring to Atown. The parents who actually care about their children's education will be the ones sending their kids there. Also the thugs will want to stay at the youngstown school with all their "homies".

As for the exactly it's about education. So why care if they do or do not wear uniforms?

As for the school dress code, i see kids wear some really outragous things to express the own identiy. There is no way i would let my child walk out the house wearing some of clothing I see. I think parents need to monitor what their kids wear to school. I also think the staff needs to enforce it. But if they do enforce it are the parents going to start complaining when their children get in trouble for it. I mean look at the artical about youngstown city school and the shoe dress code violations and the way people were about it. I think school boards are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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22dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I find that to be wrong OldMan Grump. I was born and raised on the westside of Youngstown. I decided to move to Austintown once I got married. I'm sure there are many who live in Austintown, who came from Youngstown. So do you think of less of those who moved here and our children? I personally decided to not even send my children to Austintown schools. They are in the effective rating for 2007-2008 school year. Where as the school my children do attend had an excellent score.

A-town went with open enrollment to get more money for the school. They say too many kid are going to other school district threw open enrollment. So they are hoping to get more money with OE.

I do also still believe that only the children who's
parent(s) want a better eduction will send them there. The parents have to get their kids to and from school everyday. Alot of the parents are just down right lazy, and would rather them be able to take the bus.

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23dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Exactly, or why not get rid of the superintendent, since he cannot follow the guidelines of his hire. He should have moved here by now. Why did they not promote with the district?

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24docsquale(13 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Judging by the information in the article and other sources, the modified dresscode is reaonable. At the same time it is a way to enforce discipline in the school system. As a former student in the school district, I know firsthand of what rules and regulations were in place. The original dresscode was designed to not only prohibit distrations from the learning environment, but also to promote professionalism. However, it seems that many parents arent aware of the current regulations, or are not enforcing them at home.

The same principal also applies with the quality of education. If parents were truly concerned about the education of there child, then they would take matters into there own hands, not just send them to another district to task the problem on someone else.

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25Mimi2BC(147 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

dmets wrote... "I personally decided to not even send my children to Austintown schools. They are in the effective rating for 2007-2008 school year. Where as the school my children do attend had an excellent score."

Just curious... why are you in a discussion about a school your own children do not attend? If your children do not attend A-town why does it matter whether they wear uniforms or not? And give me a break about the school colors being affiliated with gangs! Those colors were not chosen to represent the bloods and the crypts.... Good grief my school colors were red and black and we wore them proudly on game days to school.

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26dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Mimi what i ment was by going to uniforms it will not get gang color our of the school district. I didn't mean the school district picked them cause they were. Some one suggested that is why they are going to uniforms due to the Youngstown student who my go there. Children should where their school colors proudly all the time!

Also the forum is for anyone to speak. I am sure there are other people on here who do not have children in the school district too. I do have family member who have attended and some who do now attend Austintown schools. So why should I not voice my opinion? I can and I will. I do still pay taxes that go to that school and fund pay checks and the things they misuse the money for.

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27dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I was starting to think you had a problem with people who were born and raised in Youngstown and moved out to get away. I honestly think jeans are ok too. But it's the outragous ways some dress that needs squashed. Can they do it without a uniform dress code. Yes. Maybe they need to have an assembly explain the dress code, tell them it is going to be enforced and those who break it will be punished. See how the school year goes and talk about it again at the end of it.

I don't completely disagree with open enrollment. I think small communities like Ridge, McDonald, and Milton just to name a few do benefit from having open enrollment. There are some district that are very full, like Niles. I have a friend who works in the school district and said classes are filled. So open enrollment gives the parents a choice to not have their children in a filled or over crowded class or school. But Austintown is a hugh township with plenty of children to run a school well.

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28AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I find it funny that the one person on here who is defending the ridiculous decisions of the school administration is someone who chose not to even send her kids to these schools. You have no idea what is actually happening in the schools yet come on here like you actually have a stake in the decisions made. You obviously have no clue if you think Austintown is not as full or fuller then Niles - our elementary kids are sitting 25 in a classroom because they closed a school.

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29dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

But open enrollment does not effect your elementary schools. For the high school; they only can take children if there is room in a grade after all Austintown student are registered. I also thought open enrollment was only going to happen if the levy does not pass in Nov. I did follow everything you guys are talking about though. I was doing reseach to figure out where I wanted to send my children. So yes I do know what is going on in your schools. As for the uniform issues, did you read my last post? Cause I did say that maybe they should have an assembly, go over the dress code, say they are going to strictly enforce it and see how that goes before completely deciding on a uniform style code. I also stated they need to get rid of your superintendent earlier too. Also this is a forum for all to express their opinions, so why should I not be able to? i live in Austintown and pay taxes to help fund your schools.

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30AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Open enrollment effects all the children in the schools. Our superintendent thinks that there is plenty of room in the elementary schools and has said so.

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31AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

We built a new school and there isn't even enough room for the kids that go there now.

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32dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I do not argree with open enrollment in Austintown schools. As for the new school, fault lies with whom ever oked the blue prints for the school. It is sad that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. Maybe parents need to go hire up then the super since he is dong nothing but causing problems for the children. As for where my son goes. There would be around 10 kids per class without open enrollment. So i think it is good for their district. The government needs to start hepling fund the schools more instead of spending 10 billion a month alone in Iraq, and sure much more in Afghanistan. Doing what? rebuilding. Please rebuild our counrty, our schools, or economy!

So for once, I 100% agree and stand behind the parents in the NO to open enrollment. I think the parents should have a right to vote on it, not just the super and the board.

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33THIRTYSFORD(14 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I am a proud parent of a student enrolled at Fitch. I went to Fitch along with my wife, brother, sister, cousins, Father, Aunts, Uncles etc. We have never had a problem that was bad enough to warrant changing to uniforms and don't believe we have a reason now. When there is a problem the teachers and principles are supposed to take care of it. At the beginning of every school year a dress code is sent home with each child. The parents and students are to read it and sign it and return it stating that both the child and the parents understand the rules. If a child breaks the rules then they should be made to change, wash face, remove jewelry, etc. If the child refuses then you call the parents and have them removed! How hard is that? Uniforms are just a way for Heuer to make the parents think we need lots of changes and to try to be ready for his try at OPEN ENROLLMENT. The Parents need to stand up say Enough Already! Don't let him fool you into rules and regulations we don't need!! Say No to Open Enrollment!!!

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34dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Someone or a group of people need to figure out how to get rid of Heuer. Go to those who hired and him with a petition to get him fired. Austintown needs to promote with in the school district, not bring someone from outside who has no clue!

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35docsquale(13 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

As far as the concept of sending home a copy of the dresscode, having it signed by a parent, and then having it brought back to the school, hah. I've seen first hand how many of those slips actualy made it home, or i should say, never left the classroom. I could never count the many times signitures were forged, mail intercepted, calls made to someones brother posing as a father. Parents are letting social standards fall by the wayside. Yes, while I support individuality and expressionism, but what ever happend to taste, or better yet, common sense.

Not to give discredit to all students, however, because I have seen multiple cases where the students are better dressed then there parents. Honestly, how can you expect students to abide by and uphold standerds, while parents are wearing things that should never be worn outside of the bedroom.

While do belive that a lower student to faculty ratio does improve the academic environment, you will loose a crucial tool in the developement of interpersonal skills when you break down the lower grade levels into even smaller groups.

For my final thought, the school system is not a babysitting program. It is a tool in wich to create a better future, to better the lives of our children. The public school system is not the only flaw in the system.

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