Board of education meeting addresses concerns over dress code

Students at Moorestown High School weigh in on the issue

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/Special to The Sun: William Allen Middle School, adjacent to Moorestown High, was the site of a board of education meeting where parents and students addressed the ongoing issue of the school’s dress code.

Moorestown resident Jill Fallows Macaluso, mother of three daughters who all attend district schools, addressed the board of education on Sept. 14 about the ongoing dress code issue.

She had asked for the code to be revisited and revised. On Sept. 21, at the second board of education for the month, it was the Moorestown High School students’ turn to address the board.

A senior who couldn’t attend the meeting had a letter read on her behalf that addressed her frustrations with the code and with reprimands for clothing that shows normal parts of the body.

“Parts of our body should not be used as distractions nor as inappropriate,” the letter said. “The language stated in the dress code at MHS is very antiquated and fails at creating a universal standard. Too many things are left to the individual teachers’ discretion, which leads to the dress code being enforced inconsistently.”

Senior Brook Blizzard addressed the board regarding the work she and her friends are doing with Mayor Nicole Gillespie and Councilman Quinton Law to create a gender-neutral dress code and advocate for others. Blizzard and her peers who attended the meeting have put out a petition to the student population on issues related to the code, asking for feedback and opinions. 

In a few short weeks, the petition has gained 2,795 signatures. On Sept. 15, females at Moorestown High protested the code by wearing tank tops and revealing their shoulders.

“Although the administration might not think it, the dress code is teaching women that it’s their fault for the way people perceive them,” said Blizzard. “Students don’t need to dress for a work environment because this is school. We come here to learn, not work.”

Moorestown High freshman Abby Zipin addressed the board after Blizzard spoke.

“We’ve also had many instances where the female-presenting students get dress coded for wearing a sports bra or tank top at a school practice, but the boys’ teams are shirtless and face no repercussions,” Zipin said. 

“This is not okay. I don’t want to see any other young students having to struggle with the issues me and my female-presenting peers have had to deal with,” she added.

Dena Blizzard, mother of Brook Blizzard, was also in attendance at the meeting and wanted to know how the board would move forward with the issue.

“It seems like this issue has come before you before,” she noted. “How has it been dealt with and how did we land to where we are?”

Also during the meeting, board member David Weinstein addressed an agenda item on    the shortage of bus drivers. He explained that the existing transportation supervisor is leaving, and a new one is coming in.

“We’ve had discussions about different ways that we could approach our internal and/or external utilization of either contracted services or internal services, and ways to try and increase the number of people available to drive buses,” said Weinstein.