One of the Waterloo parents who sought to have the school district’s dress code overturned says a decision by the state Board of Education Thursday to uphold the policy is based on bogus information. The board approved a revised version of the Waterloo dress code after the board’s lawyer said the district changed its wording to comply with Iowa law, and provided evidence of safety concerns over gang activity in the district because of clothes students were wearing.
Parent Ricki Peters says the district exaggerated the gang influence. Peters said, “From everything from elementary to the middle schools, to high schools, supposedly gangs had taken over the Waterloo school district.” Peters says Waterloo school officials “lied” about the influence of gangs in the Waterloo schools.
“We had our school board president who said under oath that the policy was passed ‘because of the blacks,’ these are not words that should ever come out of the mouth of a sitting school board president,” Peters says, “They’re not factual, and there is not part of them that is true. They are lies that were said in court.”
Peters says the administrative law judge that heard their request to overturn the policy had to listen to the information on gangs and use it in her ruling because it was said by the sitting school board president. The Waterloo parents now have 20 days to appeal the decision in either the Black Hawk County or Polk County district court. Peters isn’t sure if they will appeal. “We have not decided,” Peters says.
Peters and his wife Teesha were successful in having the dress code overturned the first time it was presented, because it said what students had to wear, while the state says a dress code can only say what students can’t wear. The district also presented more information on safety concerns surrounding the gang issue for a second version of the dress code.