One of the state’s largest school districts approved a new dress code Monday night, despite the concerns of dozens of students and parents who spoke out against the change. The dress code for the Waterloo Schools will start in the 2011/2012 school year and will ban students from wearing jeans, cargo pants, crocks or flip flops.

Students will be required to wear a solid color shirt with a collar. At Monday night’s school board meeting, several students and parents called the change unfair saying it’ll hurt students’ freedom of expression. But district officials claim the dress code will prevent gang activity, boost students self-esteem and cut down on distractions in class.

A phone survey conducted by the district found 72% of the parents questioned supported the idea of a dress code. The Waterloo School District will seek private donations to help low-income students purchase the required clothing. More than 10,000 students are enrolled in the district.