Local News

Nash Parents Sue School Board Over Dress Code Issue

Posted September 7, 2004 4:55 a.m. EDT

— The issue of a local school dress code is now in court. More than 25 parents are suing the Nash-Rocky Mount School Board over required uniforms.

Parents who filed the lawsuit say the School Board illegally changed the middle school dress code without getting their input.

"We want the majority to rule and in the event the majority chooses to have uniforms, we want to have the ability to opt out if it's not right for us because of religious or philosophical reasons," parent Joy Awalt said.

"What we want is a vote. Just put it to a vote. If they lose, they'll go home," said Charles Robinson, attorney for the parents' group.

Wardlaw Lamar, attorney for the school board, said the board is not required to consider a parent vote on the issue. He filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

"We feel like the complaint simply does not have a cause of action and therefore that the judge should dismiss it," he said.

The new dress code requires middle-schoolers to wear solid-colored polo-style tops and khaki bottoms. Superintendent George Norris said he has already getting positive feedback from principals and teachers.

"Folks feel like the uniforms are causing the students to be more focused on their studies and generally, we're having better behavior in our schools," he said.

"They're designed to make everyone conform to a set ideal. There are financial considerations. The uniform is more expensive than the clothes I would typically buy for my daughter," Awalt said.

The defense said there is already a plan in place to help children who cannot afford uniforms. The judge agreed to consider the request to dismiss the case. Both sides now have seven days to provide more information to the judge before he makes a final decision.

Those who filed the suit say if the judge will not hear the case, they will take it to a higher court. Attorneys for both sides say they plan to submit more information to make their case.