Matanzas High School senior and Student School Board Member Michael Manning won an even greater victory at the board meeting May 19 than he’d anticipated: The board not only passed his proposal to loosen the high school dress code to allow school T-shirts, it went one step further.
Manning had asked the board to allow students to wear school logo T-shirts, team jerseys, or club T-shirts each day. Under the current dress code, students can wear them only on Fridays. That didn’t make sense to Manning, and, ultimately, to much of the board.
At the School Board meeting May 19, as the board prepared to vote on Manning’s proposal, School Board Chairwoman Colleen Conklin amended a motion on the issue to loosen the dress code even more: She thought students should be permitted to wear patterned collared shirts instead of just the solid ones required under the current policy.
School staff, she said, have told her they’ve been in situations in which they “have a child who is dressed sharp, to the nines, with a collared shirt … but it has thin stripes. They are put in the position of writing this child up. It’s silly.”
School Board Member Sue Dickinson, the most outspoken defender of the current dress code since Manning suggested changing it, didn’t like that idea. “If that’s the case, you might as well just take the dress code out, because what are we limiting at that point?” she said.
School Board member Andy Dance, who made the original board motion to approve Manning’s proposal, suggested allowing collared shirts to be plaid or striped.
“I think that probably covers 90% of everything” the kids would want to wear, he said.
School Board member Trevor Tucker suggested there could be safety concerns associated with relaxing the dress code, but fellow board member Janet McDonald disagreed, saying, “We have our professionals spending hours monitoring clothing. That’s not why they’re there.”
The board voted 3-2 for the motion to relax the dress code, with Dickinson and Tucker voting against.
Manning, who will be off to the University of South Florida this coming year to study business, was pleased with the vote.
“I think this was a big service to the students and the parents,” he said. “The board had the opportunity to listen to the community, and they did.”